Fine Print

An article I just read talks about how many people do not read the fine print in contracts that they sign. I have to admit, I have been guilty of this myself. But this contract takes things to a whole new level. Here is a portion of the article.

A computer game retailer revealed that it legally owns the souls of thousands of online shoppers, thanks to a clause in the terms and conditions agreed to by online shoppers.

The retailer, British firm GameStation, added the “immortal soul clause” to the contract signed before making any online purchases earlier this month. It states that customers grant the company the right to claim their soul.

“By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from gamesation.co.uk or one of its duly authorised minions.”

GameStation’s form also points out that “we reserve the right to serve such notice in 6 (six) foot high letters of fire, however we can accept no liability for any loss or damage caused by such an act. If you a) do not believe you have an immortal soul, b) have already given it to another party, or c) do not wish to grant Us such a license, please click the link below to nullify this sub-clause and proceed with your transaction.”

The terms of service were updated on April Fool’s Day as a gag, but the retailer did so to make a very real point: No one reads the online terms and conditions of shopping, and companies are free to insert whatever language they want into the documents.

You can read the entire article here.

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Letters

Have you ever wanted to write a letter to a company or business about a customer service issue, debt collection or identity theft issues but did not know how to get started? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a website with “sample letters” for you to look before you write your letter, and suggested important information for you to include in that letter? Well, there is.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has a page with just that information for you!

Writing a letter to our elected officials and government agencies is the way we can make our voice and opinions heard, and this site can really help you get started if you feel like you are having “writer’s block”.

The Non-Technical Guide To Finding An Email IP Address

James Bigglesworth (CyberCrimeOps.COM)
January 30, 2010

Being an anti-fraud activist for a number of years, and frequenting many different types of anti-fraud communities, I have heard many questions (and answers) about locating IP Addresses from an email. This article is for non-technical explanations into how to find it, and then how to figure out what it means.

MEET THE IP ADDRESS

Before we get started, let us look briefly at what an IP Address actually is.

Simply put, an IP (Internet Protocol) Address is a series of numbers assigned to a device that is part of a computer network. The IP Address can be thought of in the same light as a street address, giving a unique reference to a geographical location.

The IP Address is a set of 4 numbers separated by periods like this; nnn.nnn.nnn.nnn. Each number will be between 0 and 255 like this; 192.168.0.1.

When you connect to the internet, your ISP gives you an IP Address, and it stays with you as you surf the world-wide-web. You may get a different one from your ISP the next time you connect, or you may get the same one. When you send an email, each machine between you and the recipient makes their mark in the email header. These marks give a roadmap of how the email has travelled through the internet.

WHY IS AN IP ADDRESS IMPORTANT?

As mentioned above, an IP Address gives unique geographical pointers, and in the case of email communications can show you where an email actually came from, and the route travelled before it gets to your inbox.

This information can be vital in figuring out whether someone talking to you via email is being truthful about their location or not. For example; if someone you are about to purchase something from says they are in the UK, but their IP Address says Nigeria, then clearly you may be on the verge of being defrauded.

CAN EMAIL IP ADDRESSES BE MANIPULATED?

In short, yes. There are a few ways that an IP Address can be altered when sending an email. Spammers for example, use an Email Relay systems to obfuscate their originating location. So instead of an email really being sent from Russia, it may appear to come from the United States of America. Typically this kind of email is sent in bulk via specialised email software designed just for this task.

Other techniques are to send emails using scripts on a website, probably one that has been hacked into. These may only give the starting IP Address which relates to the machine on which the script was hosted.

Another technique is to use a webmail account that either does not give out the originating IP Address, or the webmail account is logged into whilst using a piggyback machine (Internet Proxy) to hide the real location.

HOW DO I FIND THE EMAIL IP ADDRESS

Locating the IP Address requires that you look at the header information embedded into the email itself. How you get to that information will depend on what you use to read your emails.

Rather than reinvent a wheel, I have chosen to incorporate information already published elsewhere. SpamCop.NET (anti-spam organisation) carry a large list of information regarding the revealing of email header information. The page is part of the SpamCop.NET FAQ [link] and covers many of the more popular software applications and webmail providers.

READING THE EMAIL HEADER

The email header contains a great deal of information, and for our purposes most of this is useless. Due to the possible wealth of information it is very easy (and common) for people to get completely confused.

First obstacle is realise that you must read the header from bottom to top and not top to bottom! This common mistake could mean the difference between identifying someone in Africa, or saying they are in Sunnyvale California and work for Yahoo!

As you read up the header, look for the first IP Address. You may be lucky as the header may have a special field called X-Originating-IP (or similar). If not, keep reading until you spot something, then look this number up using a WHOIS service (see below).

LOOKING UP AN EMAIL IP ADDRESS

As mentioned above, we need to use a WHOIS lookup service once we have located an IP Address. There are literally many hundreds of these on the internet that can be used.

I will recommend only two, as I use both of these myself. The first is called Domain Tools [link] and is my personal favourite. The other is called DNS Stuff [link]. DNS Stuff contains a lot more geeky tools, but look for the “WHOIS/IPWHOIS Lookup” and enter the IP Address.

The information you get back may give you the information your seek, such as the company & country that is allocated to that IP Address.

Some things to think about when getting results you don’t understand. Some foreign countries, especially Africa, use satellite connections to get onto the internet. This means that the IP Address will relate to the first landfall that is made from the satellite. This could be in any number of countries, such as UK, Canada, USA, Israel, or others.

It takes more investigation at that point as you then have to visit the corporate website and try and find their coverage map, if they publish it. This will indicate what satellite services they utilise, and what areas of the world it covers.

IS THE ORIGINAL IP ADDRESS ALWAYS IN THE HEADER?

Unfortunately no. Some email services do not log the original IP Address in the header. Typically this would be done from a WebMail provider. Three of the best known IP hiders are GMail, FastMail and HushMail.

GMail and FastMail allow their users to send emails directly from their email application of their computer, instead of using the webmail interface. This mechanism does not hide the original IP Address, so it is always worth having a look at the header, just in case.

ITS TOO COMPLICATED, IS THERE AN EASIER WAY?

Fortunately there are people out there who like to help, by providing tools we can use for free. If you find reading an email header too confusing or complicated then try copying and pasting the whole header into the following web-page; http://headertool.apelord.com/. I have no idea who owns it, but it has been around for many years.

This very useful tool will read the header for you and display all those it finds, along with a probable country of origin. The email header will be displayed to you again, but all IP Addresses will be highlighted so you can see where they all are. This can be very useful if you are learning to read the header yourself.

The ApeLord tool will also have links to DNSStuff, to enable you to look at details in closer detail.

Further Reading

  • Wikipedia – IP Address [link] | Private IP Address [link]
  • Wikipedia – Email Relay [link]
  • Wikipedia – Internet Proxy [link]
  • SpamCop.NET – Reveal the full, unmodified email. [link]
  • Wikipedia – Email Headers [link] | E-Mail Message Header [link]
  • ApeLord – Header Analysis [link]
  • WHOIS Lookup – Domain Tools [link] | DNS Stuff [link]

Original article written for Shawn Mosch, co-founder of ScamVictimsUnited.COM

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Support Scam Victims United by going out to eat!

Here is an EASY way for people to support Scam Victims United . . . go out to eat!

What am I talking about? Well, if you go to
http://shopittous.blogspot.com/2010/01/eat-out-for-less.html
you will find links to a site where you can purchase discounted gift certificates for local restaurants! You can search by state or zip code, and then purchase the gift certificates and print them off and head out to dinner knowing that you have saved some money AND supported Scam Victims United. (a portion of all purchases made from the link at http://shopittous.blogspot.com/2010/01/eat-out-for-less.html goes directly to us)

We did this and were able to get $25 gift certificates for $12!

Check it out and see if your favorite restaurant is listed, but remember, to support Scam Victims United you have to use the links at http://shopittous.blogspot.com/2010/01/eat-out-for-less.html

Worth checking out

I know that we usually talk about scams, but this site is just too good for me to not tell you about.

Restaurant.com is my new favorite site. I went there yesterday to purchase gift certificates for family members for the holidays. I was able to purchase $50 worth of gift certificates for $27!


When you go to the site you can enter your zip code and it will show you the restaurants in your area that are a part of the program, and then you choose the amount of gift certificates you want to purchase. The best part is that there is no waiting for a gift card to arrive in the mail. You are able to print out the certificates for the restaurants right away! You could be getting ready to go out to eat right now, check online and find a discounted gift certificate for your favorite restaurant in your area, print it out and save some money on today!


This place is worth checking out! In addition to having great deals, a portion of what you spend goes to support Scam Victims United . . . yes, that is right . . . you can eat out, save money, and help to support our site!

Shawn Mosch
Co-Founder of
ScamVictimsUnited.com
There is strength in numbers!

 

Find us on Twitter, Facebook and more through
http://www.retaggr.com/page/ShawnMosch

Support Scam Victims United by shopping at
http://shopittous.blogspot.com/


Looking for volunteers

We are looking for volunteers for upcoming projects with ScamVictimsUnited.com.  Please let us know if you are interested and have a background in any of the following areas, as these will be useful to some of the projects.

                        Fundraising

                        Non-Profits

                        Law Enforcement

                        Consumer Protection

                        Graphic Design

                        Video Production

                        Marketing/Promotion

                        PSA

                        Law

                        Lobbying

                        Banking

                        Financial Education

                        Grant Writing

Internet Crime On The Rise

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) released it’s 2008 Internet Crime Report today.  You can view report in full by going to http://www.fbi.gov/page2/march09/internet_033009.html

There was a 33% increase in complaints in 2008 over 2007, with an increase of $25 million lost.  Just think, if more could have been done to educate people about scams and warn them before they became victims, that is money that those people would still have in their pockets.

With the economy in the state that it is, we need to do EVERYTHING we can to protect the money that we have.  One way to do that would be to increase scam awareness with signs in the post offices, banks, Western Union and MoneyGram locations.  PSA would also do a lot to get the word out to the masses.