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Scam/virus alert! August 4, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Scam alert.

I just received this e-mail and wanted to warn the translation blogosphere just in case one of you receives a similar e-mail. I am fairly confident (ok, more than fairly confident…) that the attachment contained a virus, so I of course deleted it without opening it. I also know no money was debited from my account, because I had just checked my account to ensure a payment had been transferred several minutes beforehand.

Subject: Lastschrift 89773505

Ihr Auftrag Nr. SP0511940 wurde erfullt.
Ein Betrag von 6890.87 EURO wurde abgebucht und wird in Ihrem Bankauszug als “Paypalabbuchung ” angezeigt.
Sie finden die Details zu der Rechnung im Anhang
PayPal (Europe)
S.577; r.l. & Cie, S.C.A.
98-57 Boulevard Royal
L-2001 Luxembourg
Vertretungsberechtigter: Deandre Xiong
Handelsregisternummer: R.C.S.  B 194 162

Basically, the gist of the e-mail, for those of you who do not speak German, is that Order No. SP0511940 had been carried out and that they had debited €6,890.87 from my bank account as a PayPal transfer. The details of the transfer “can be found in the attached file.” I have no doubt the address and Handelsregisternummer (Commercial Register Number) are not real, so I don’t have any qualms about posting them here. I also doubt there is anyone named Deandre Xiong living in Luxembourg – or anywhere else for that matter.

The e-mail itself is suitably vague. The subject line is “Direct debit/debit memo 89773505” or something like that (I generally run screaming from translating financial texts, so don’t quote me on that). When I first saw the subject line in my Mailwasher program I thought it might be a translation request, but luckily I read the body of the e-mail as well.

I fell for this sort of thing about eight years ago when I opened an attachment that contained the “I Love You” virus, because the e-mail came from a client and sounded like it was a proofreading job (it was a variation on the first wave of the virus). I spent quite a bit of time and energy removing it, so I learned my lesson about opening attachments from unknown “clients.” If I get an e-mail with a strange subject line from a potential client I will either delete it sight unseen or reply asking them for more information about themselves. If the e-mail bounces back I know I can delete the e-mail.

I’m sure the point behind the e-mail is to make the recipient panic that money had been unjustifiably debited from their bank account and open the attachment to find out more details. A cooler head would wonder how these folks had gotten their bank information and authorization to debit the money from the account for a nebulous business transaction in the first place.

A little skepticism can go a long way in ensuring you don’t fall for scams, viruses and worms.



1. Joachim von Briel - August 5, 2008

I got the same shit right now… S.577; r.l. & Cie, S.C.A. Have thrown it away without looking inside the attachment. Hihi.

Greetings from Germany

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