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8:20:07 PM
  • Honeypot scam or credit card fraud? Herewith a cautionary tale from the front lines of the Net's danger zone.

    I received the following mail several hours ago.

        Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2001 21:46:41 +0200
        To: dawson at world dot std dot com
        From: service@sunbill.net
        Subject: BillCards - Your Membership Activated
        Your transaction has been processed and membership activated.
        Site:                http://www.underageclub.com
        Login:               {not shown}
        Password:            {not shown}
        Price:               39.99
        If your password stops working any time during membership period, 
        please visit the following URL (remember it for future usage):
        	http://www.billcards.com/misc.cgi?mupdate={some number}
        Your credit card has been charged the amount of USD 39.99 + 2.95 
        transaction fee. 
        If you wish to cancel the renewal of this membership, please go to 
        All transactions from BillCards will appear on your credit card 
        statement as "billcards.com".
        Please read Member Agreement and other important information at: 
        We appreciate your dedication to our system and want to satisfy all 
        your needs. Truly yours, BillCards staff.

    I did not order any underage porn from Belgium -- for this is where underageclub.com is registered. The email did not identify the credit card in question (e.g., by giving the last four digits), leading me to posit that no credit card of mine has been compromised.

    I immediately replied to the apparent source of this email, sunbill.net, with a copy to the abuse address at their upstream supplier, genesis2net.com, asking: Did you send this notice? Who authorized this charge? What credit card was used? Sunbill is an apparently legitimate transaction processor whose domain name is registered in Delaware. Their abuse team quickly responded, "This is not ours. We know nothing about this."

    So the source of the ugliness is apparently billcards.com, which is registered to an address in Moscow. Using the friendly cover of SafeWeb's free anonymizing service, I visited billcards.com's proffered "cancel" page, but declined to proceed to log in using the credentials my friends in Moscow had so thoughtfully provided. I do not recommend that any reader visit billcards.com for any reason.

    The scammers' motives remain murky. The whole exercise may be nothing more than a honeypot designed to vailidate email addresses for spamming.

    I would like to hear from anyone who can shed light on this scam. Please email dawson at world dot std dot com.

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