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New phishing scam: Spoofed campaign site

Prospective contributors to Kerry presidential campaign are latest targets

By Grant Gross
August 4, 2004 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - WASHINGTON -- Phishing fraudsters have found another group of victims to target -- people who want to donate to political campaigns.
SurfControl PLC, a Web and e-mail filtering software vendor in Congleton, U.K., noticed two apparent scams targeting people wanting to donate money to John Kerry's presidential campaign. E-mail with the subject line, "President John Kerry, please vote and contribute," directed recipients to two Web sites, one registered in India and the other in Texas.
So-called phishing scams -- stealing credit card numbers and other personal information by using spam e-mail to direct people to spoofed Web sites -- have been around for years, but this is the first political phishing scam SurfControl has observed, said Susan Larson, vice president of global content at SurfControl.
This latest scam doesn't appear to have a political motivation -- just an economic one, Larson said. The scam e-mail appeared within days of the end of the Democratic National Convention in Boston, she noted.
Phishing scammers can use current events to support their claims, Larson said. "They want people to think they have to do this now," she added. "That's typical of the way they get the best hit."
Both sites were designed to look like Kerry's official campaign site, johnkerry.com, Larson said. Neither of the apparently spoofed sites was still operating as of late yesterday, which along with the odd registration locations, led SurfControl to conclude the sites weren't legitimate, Larson said.
The apparently bogus e-mail directed recipients to http://testhost.yahoogoogle.biz/JohnKerry/contribute.html, registered in India, and www.johnkerry_edwards.org, registered to an individual in New Braunfels, Texas, according to SurfControl.
"It was a very legitimate-looking e-mail," Larson noted.
People with concerns about e-mail asking for political donations should contact the campaign directly -- in this case, at johnkerry.com, Larson advised.
Scammers using phishing tactics typically send out e-mail targeting users of financial institutions or other e-commerce sites. The bogus e-mail message often tells recipients there's a problem with their accounts, and that they need to re-enter their bank account number or credit card number at a Web site designed to look like the legitimate e-commerce site.
An estimated 57 million U.S. adults had received phishing scam e-mail as of May, according to Gartner Inc. Phishing attacks increased 500% between January and May 2004, and an estimated 3% of phishing e-mail recipients fill out the forms on spoofed Web sites, Larson said.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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