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TUCoPS :: Scams :: pornscam.txt

The "Free Web Porn" scam - how to get people to phone Moldavia without knowing it!





Porn on Net leads to big bills;
Overseas phone flip boosts phone bills, police say
By Robert Brehl - Toronto Star Business Reporter, 29 Jan 1997

A bizarre scam involving pornography on the Internet has cost victims
hundreds of dollars, Royal Canadian Mounted Police say.

Some victims have been unknowingly charged up to $1,200 to download
porn from the Web site (sexygirls.com), said Corporal Marc Gosselin,
of the RCMP's computer crime unit.

Gosselin said the scam worked this way:

The website informs Internet surfers that looking at nude pictures is free.
To see the pictures, ``a special image viewer'' must be clicked on and
downloaded to your home computer.

``And that's a virus, a Trojan horse,'' the Mountie said.

When it is clicked on, the viewer's modem is disconnected from the
regular local Internet service provider, Gosselin said.

Then the dialer volume is turned off, and a phone number in Moldova,
in the former Soviet Union, is dialed.

Surreptitiously, the person's computer in Canada is then hooked to a
phone number in Moldova, Gosselin said.

>From Moldova, the call is bounced back to a computer in Scarborough

where the pornographic pictures are stored.

``You're accessing a server in Scarborough through a long-distance
call to Moldova,'' Gosselin said.

The scam can continue even after viewing the pornography.

That's because Internet surfers may move on to other Internet sites,
but are still unknowingly connected to Moldova and racking up
long-distance charges, Gosselin said in an interview from Montreal.

Because the investigation is continuing and charges are pending, the
Mounties refuse to name the company in Scarborough.

The Star attempted to send an E-mail to officials connected to
(sexygirls.com). The page has an area for sending E-mail, but would
not accept electronic messages from The Star.

The website boasts having had more than 1 million visitors since Jan.
1, 1997. That number could not be verified.

The RCMP has ordered that all calls from Canada to the number in
Moldova not be connected, so this scam has been stopped, the corporal
said.

But telecommunications experts say oodles of other potential scams are
out there, and consumers should beware.

Ian Angus, author of the book Phone Pirates, said using the Internet
is the latest twist in scamming people on long-distance charges.

``It's not just a dirty trick, it's business, big money,'' Angus said.

That's because it's common for phone companies in foreign countries to
try to attract calls from the lucrative North American market, he
said.

Bell will look at each case before deciding whether to waive the
charges

Typically, foreign phone companies enlist entrepreneurs to generate
calls and then, in turn, pay the entrepreneurs a percentage of each
call.

Canadian phone companies ``must pay international settlement charges
to foreign countries even if they can't collect at home,'' said Angus,
president of Angus Telemanagement.

Bell Canada spokesperson John Peck said the company will look at each
complaint before deciding whether to waive the charges.

``But we're on the hook for it, too,'' Peck said. ``Chances are the
individual will be held responsible.''

If Bell waived the charges, other Bell customers and shareholders
would be subsidizing the charges rung up, unknowingly or not, by
people downloading pornography.

Gosselin and Angus said Bell probably won't get too many complaints
because of the embarrassment factor for victims forced to admit what
they were doing in order to argue for a rebate.

The RCMP has had 20 complaints so far, but hundreds of others have
probably been taken, Gosselin said.

He said it would be several weeks before any charges are laid related
to unauthorized access to computers and fraud.

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