New Facebook Features

The tease-and-switch scams are being recycled. In these scams the email subject and content don’t match – in this example the subject is “New Facebook Features” yet except for the first line, the body of the email is a New York Times article about soldiers killed in Afghanistan. The scam is in that first line.

Test Your Skills

You should be able to find at least five red flags that tell you this e-mail is fraudulent. Click on the picture below to see the answers, but try to find them yourself, first. If you find four, you have little to worry about. If you find fewer than three, consider practicing on some more of our spam scam examples.

Here are the red flags that show this email is a scam:

  1. The subject line and content are not related. With over 350 million Facebook users, the title is designed by scammers to get many recipients to open the email – if you use Facebook, wouldn’t you want to know about new features?
  2. The sender attempts to appear as the New York Times (, but looking at the full address you see there is nytdirect at the front of this – clearly not from the newspaper company. Additionally, common sense tells you the New York Times will not personally email you about new Facebook features.
  3. The email is not addressed to you.
  4. The real point of this email is evidenced in the first line of text – they want you to visit their “Adults Only Facebook”, and they give you a URL to get there.
    1. Notice how they break up the word Adu l ts such that you can easily read it – and maybe not even notice the irregularity – but at the same time fool spam filters that may otherwise have caught it.
    2. In spite of the claim that it’s Facebook, this is NOT a Facebook offer and is therefore deliberately misleading.
    3. Should you be inclined to want an adult only version of a social network, you still would not want to click on their link without first checking it’s legitimacy unless you have a strong desire to infect your computer with malware. Typing this phrase into a search engine quickly shows it is a spam site.
  5. So why did the spammer add an unrelated news article to the bottom of their spam? The answer is to fool spam filters. If the only content in the body of the email is a few words and a link (particularly if one of the words is “adult” or a similar word frequently associated with spam), chances are high that it will be blocked or flagged for the spam it is. By adding a legitimate article, the spam filters are much less likely to catch, warn or block the email.

In spite of Bill Gate’s quaint prediction that the spam problem would be solved by 2006, we are far away from getting rid of this scourge. Expect to see both the number and the sophistication of scams continue to increase in 2010.

If your spam spotting skills are rough, start practicing or you will fall victim. If you’re a spam spotting master, pay it forward by teaching someone else.



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