A Swell of Tsunami Spam Scams

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Some of you may recall that Aunty told you about Christopher Pierson, the British man who skulked about the tsunami disaster support boards, and wrote to those who were looking for loved ones feared lost in the disaster that, indeed, their loved ones had perished (sick b*st*ard. Oops…did Aunty say that outloud?)

Pierson may have been the first person known to exploit the horrific events of that fateful day for fun and profit, but he is by no means the only.

Just this week, both an Internet worm, and a human worm named Matthew Schmeider, were found to be attempting to take advantage of the largesse of people wanting to help those impacted by the tsunami.


The Internet worm, identified by Sophos, comes with the subject line “Tsunami donation! Please help!” and packs an executable file named, aptly, tsunami.exe which, when launched, does the normal wormy thing of replicating and sending itself out from the host computer.

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A Swell of Tsunami Spam Scams

Word up: don’t open it.

As for Mr. Schmeider, well, he may go down in history for being the the most sorry excuse for a spammer there ever was. He couldn’t even do it right (thankfully). Schmeider sent out 800,000 pieces of spam begging for money for the tsunami victims – money which he confessed he’d intended to keep for himself to pay bills and fix his car. “Confessed” as in, when the FBI, whose office was just around the corner from his Pittsburgh apartment, picked him up. According to SpamHaus, which helped to lead authorities to Schmeider, he was “a rank amateur in spam terms who made little attempt to cover his tracks or obscure his location and identity”.

To add insult to injury, the PayPal account to which he’d directed donations had a whopping $150.00 in it when he was apprehended. Not even enough to cover the cost of the consultation with the criminal attorney he’s going to need.

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A Swell of Tsunami Spam Scams

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