Spam and scam e-mails

I’m sure everyone hates spam and scam e-mails just as much as I do, but how many people actually know what to do with them?

One of the things that I love about marrying someone who knows a lot about the Internet and helped write the Spam Code in Australia is that I was introduced to ACMA, and am now semi-knowledgeable about what can be done if I receive certain spam messages.

Of course, the Spam Code can only deal with spam originating from Australia. And when the majority of spam originates from countries such as the United States, not much can be done apart from deleting the message. I rarely receive unsolicited e-mail from Australian e-mail addresses, and when I do, I am usually able to get them to remove me from their mailing list. It’s when you aren’t removed that you should involve ACMA and make a complaint.

But what about scam e-mails that originate from non-Australian e-mail addresses that have an impact on or relate to something specifically in Australia?

This morning I received a scam e-mail from a .is domain address, purporting to be a company that was looking to expand in Australia and was apparently offering me an opportunity to apply for a job to work for them. I visited the .com URL in the e-mail address I was supposed to contact and the company had a professional looking web site, and apparently the company is from the UK. The e-mail also included a fax number from Victoria that I could forward my resumes. I decided that this could trick many unsuspecting victims, and I did not want anyone to be hurt by something like this. I had to report this e-mail somewhere so that something could be done about it – and the Victorian fax number meant someone is operating this scam in Australia. Someone should be put away for this.

However, given that the e-mail did not originate from Australia, I was unsure if ACMA was the place to go. ACMA directed me to Scam Watch (after not being able to find where to report the e-mail by searching for various phrases on Google) and I decided to report the scam to one of the government departments there. However, I was not satisfied enough to do just this, and I thought ACMA might be able to tell me what else could be done.

Therefore, I also submitted the entire e-mail, including long headers, to ACMA, who told me the e-mail was a ‘mule’ scam, and forwarded my report to the Australian High Tech Crime Centre. Now I know exactly where to go the next time I get a scam e-mail. I presume this would also be a good place to report scam e-mails pretending to be Australian banking institutes, even if there is no Australian involvement in the scam.

I’m writing this entry because I feel the need to urge others to do the same, to help protect those people on the Internet who don’t use common sense (If it looks suss, it probably is suss/if it looks too good to be true, it probably is) or aren’t aware that such scams exist. It might take some time out of your day that you’d rather use doing something else, but if you’re smart enough to delete a spam/scam e-mail, then you’re probably smart enough to figure out how to report it. It’s worth doing to help prevent this kind of thing in the future. This entry, I hope, will serve as knowledge about what to do the next time you come across a spam or scam e-mail that relates to Australians.

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