Sometimes I love my job. How cool is it to run a Turing Test for real? But first, the back story…
For a while now we’ve been receiving SMS spam reports for a three stage attack. This starts with an SMS text message conversation, moves to Yahoo! Messenger or Skype and ends up on the web. The first contact is a text message using the recipient’s correct first name and saying something like:
Hello Mark u there?? Have not heard from u in a while
The spammer is using the victim’s real first name. We believe that and the phone number were collected by data mining social networks. When the victim responds asking who is sending the message they get a reply which is a variation on:
Who are you?
haha if u want to know who this is u got to addd me on Yahoo messenger, my id is XXXXXXXXXX
If the victim tries to continue the conversation it goes like this:
No, really, who is this?
omg my phone is gonna run out of battery. just talk to me on yahoo
Of course, the Research team at Cloudmark could not wait to find out who this person was who had managed to lose touch with so many thousands of people and incidentally seemed to collect Yahoo! and Skype accounts like other people collect pennies in a jar. We sent Yahoo! Messenger friend requests to a few of the ids in recent messages. Chris got the first response, but I think mine was better. I started by channeling my inner horny college student, but pretty soon the inner computer scientist took over.
Clicking the accept button on the landing page opens two browser windows, one to an adult dating site and one to a web cam site. The web cam site is one of over a thousands URLs owned by a company in Seattle. They all have same content, and their affiliate program pays $40 to the spammer for any person who signs up for the free service, on the assumption that they will be able to extract more money out of them later. The dating site pays the spammer $5 for each visitor, or $75 if the visitor signs up. People who sign up can only hope that the “SEXY SINGLES IN YOUR AREA” on the dating site are more real than the sex crazed robot trying to drum up business, but somehow I doubt it.
At this point Chris decided to have some fun with the bot (everyone has to have a hobby). He found that it doesn’t care about money, but does react to the word “scam”.