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March 14th, 2006

Instant Messenger Phishing Scam Alert

So I was chatting with Rose via Yahoo! Messenger a few moments ago when something odd happened. She was Idle for quite awhile - which isn't unusual, we just chat here and there throughout the day - but then this strange message popped up from her:

ok everyone I uploaded a few pics to this geocities site http://www.geocities.com/theserealpictures please go take a quick peek ty 1736

Not even thinking, or reading it all the way through, I clicked. It brought me a Yahoo! Photos sign-on page.

Hold on, I thought to myself, something isn't right. I closed the window and went back and read the message and realized this was NOT from Rose.

At the same time, she sent me a message asking if I'd gotten a "weird" message from her a moment before; that others were telling her they'd gotten the same thing. She said just before it went out, she was knocked off - saying she'd logged in elsewhere.

I started doing some research online and found out this was an instant messaging phishing scam. Please see here for more details: Please Log In - YM Phishing; this is a link to TrendMicro. There's also more info on this scam here: Yahoo! Phishing Attack uses Geocities.

That logon page was the exact one that came up when I clicked on Rose's link. Thankfully I didn't log in, but the same thing had happened to her a few days before - and, not thinking, she had. Which explains how they got into her account to send the phishing scam through her IM list today.

She's changed her Yahoo! account password, and we're fairly sure that's all they were able to get into - as her Yahoo! email is just a spare, spam-catcher account. But if this were to happen to someone like me, who uses their Yahoo! email for just about *everything*, they'd got all kinds of good info on me (including the sign-on and password to my bank).

I (as Rose will later) am writing this to warn you. The more people who are aware of these scams, the less likely they will be to fall prey to them. Visit the sites listed above, learn about the scam and what the fake Yahoo! Photos page looks like (though, remember, it could be a totally different page depending on what the scammers create).

So if you ever run into this sort of IM quirk again, you know what it is and you know what to do. Please, everyone, be safe online - it's dangerous out here.

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