Stock Spammers Pump It Up With MP3 Files
Spammers involved in pump-and-dump scams touting penny stocks now are using MP3 music files to lure investors, a switch security experts say is the latest tactic designed to sneak the messages past spam filters.
According to e-mail security provider MessageLabs, the spam run began late on Oct. 17, with roughly 10,000 messages blasted out per hour. The e-mails include semi-random subject lines that matched the title of the attached MP3 file, which plays a short 20-60 second message touting microcap shares of a company called Exit Only Inc.
An audio sample of the MP3 files is available for your listening pleasure at this link.
Keep in mind that it's never a good idea to open attachments that arrive in e-mails you weren't expecting, even MP3 files. Some of the attachment names associated with this spam run include "elvis.mp3," "britney.mp3," and "beatles.mp3."
Atlanta-based SecureWorks says the messages are the latest tactic of criminals who control millions of compromised PCs infected by the Storm worm. SecureWorks says the various MP3s are all basically the same content, but recorded at slightly different bit rates in order to make the recording unique enough to prevent easy filtering at e-mail gateways.
Exit Only Inc., by the way, is a parent company that owns text4cars.com, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based subsidiary that matches car buyers and sellers via cell phone text messages.
"We hired a team of experts to look into this and found that it all started with a phantom server in St. Petersburg, Russia, that bounced it off servers in Argentina, and from there it started populating computers in North America via the Storm worm," said David Dion, chief executive of text4cars.com.
Dion said he alerted Pink Sheets and the Securities and Exchange Commission, but both said they could do nothing for his company. So far today, 100 shares of the company's stock have traded hands, a $40 value.
"I'm mad as hell, and have really no idea why my company got targeted," Dion said. "I hope if someone is going to make an investment decision in our company that they do it on the merits of the company itself, not on some spam e-mails that are being sent out without our permission."
October 18, 2007; 1:48 PM ET
Categories: Fraud , Latest Warnings , Safety Tips
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