While reviewing a client site, I recently noticed a small number of accounts had registered with spurious firstName and lastName values such as:

After some digging, it appeared these customers had legitimate email addresses, however had placed no orders, nor had they interacted with our site.
Looking at the logs, these emails had received ‘welcome’ emails – which looked a bit like:

Which reveals the scam.
A bad actor had obtained a list of legitimate email addresses, and they were using the site to send spam, by signing up accounts using a bot.
The accounts then receive a ‘welcome email’ containing the spam links.
We quickly implemented invisible recaptcha on our signup form, and the problem disappeared.
Affected accounts were archived.

Today, I purchased tickets for the Farnborough Air Show 2014, at a cost of £48 each.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was a £0.50p charge to print my tickets at home!

The charge was the same for collecting from the Box Office.
For convenience, I printed the tickets at home, but feel this charge is totally unjustified.

Farnborough Air Show an SeeTIckets charging 50p to print tickets at home

Link buying spam from Discover Media

I received a spam email earlier this week from a guy claiming to be John from Discover Media, asking to place an article on my blog, with a link to his ‘client’ site.
His email address was john@discovermedia.co.uk

I work for a company called Discover Media, acting on behalf of a casino client who like to advertise on your website.
I am interested in publishing a short article (around 300+ words) on your website, to stay live for a 12 month period.
We tailor each article to suit individual websites, and are able to provide the content if necessary and can ensure that it is unique, up to date and relevant to the theme of your website, alternatively you can provide content if you wish. The content would contain one link to my client’s site.
If you are interested please reply and we can discuss it further.
Best regards,

What’s basically going on here is he’s offering to pay (as I find out in a later email) $120 to put this article with a link on my site.
Although they would probably see the payment through, the problem is, when Google get wind of the fact  you’ve sold a link to a spammy site (they can tell!), they will penalize my site, possibly even blacklist it.

This is known as “article marketing” – http://boostblogtraffic.com/seo-mistakes/

The article he wanted me to publish is below (obviously I’ve left the link out)

TITLE: Review of a casino site from the point of view of web design

TEXT: If there is something that unites all of those businesses that are looking to succeed nowadays, it is an increased awareness of the importance of web design. While you need to provide a good product or service, the first thing people will become aware of when they reach your website is what it looks like and how user-friendly it is, with the internet making it very easy for them to go elsewhere if your site fails this test. Online casino is one sector which definitely seems to be passing the test, but what is it about modern casino site design that presses the right buttons for users?

Well for one thing, the best of these sites make the it as easy as possible for new visitors to find what they are looking for – whether it is the contact information, details about security or the different types of games on offer. This is achieved by providing a main page, which is what you will automatically be taken to when you click on the site via a search engine, which contains the links to all of these different parts of the website in one single place. This makes the big online casinos such as new Zealand “<a href=”http://www.casinoonline.co.nz/”>casino online</a>“ amongst the easiest of sites to work out, for those people who have never visited them before.

These sites have also cut down on unnecessary frills in recent times – although you will still find appealing graphics depicting various aspects of the casino gaming experience. These are placed on the pages in such a way that they do not distract from the important information though, and they are increasingly being selected to present a classy image, rather than a flashy, gaudy one. The other big change in the design of these sites is the greater compatibility with mobile phones and tablets, through the use of design templates like Cascading Style Sheets, as the top online casinos look to ensure that online and mobile casino services can both be accessed via the one web page.


Received this email earlier this week… After some googling, I have determined that it’s a scam, and there’s usually a zip file attached. GMail had removed this zip file though I think.

This message is for the designated recipient only and may contain privileged, proprietary, or otherwise private information. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete the original. Any other use of the email by you is prohibited.

Record ID: 0V0L9ME4C9PJ4G7

Supplier: http://alexjamesbrown.com

Invoice No.: 7853578071

Document No.: 9609384932

Invoice amount: USD 0874.68

Rejection reason(s): Approval Required Please find enclosed a record of invoice that could not be processed. We would like to ask you to assist us in resolving the noted rejection reasons.

Back in October, I wrote about a domain name appraisal scam. It appears this is still doing the rounds, but has changed wording slightly.

Below is the transcript of messages:

Make no mistake, THIS IS A SCAM

From: coddington@thedomaininvestors.com
Sent: 18 March 2010 07:54
To: Alex James Brown
Subject: ukcabs.net (sent 03/18/10)



We buy and sell domains and web pr®jects. What is your price for the domain?
If you have other domains for sale feel free to send your list.

Looking forward to do business with you.

Maria Coddington
Vice President
Internet Investment Startegies LLC

NOTICE – This communication may contain confidential and privileged
information that is for the sole use of the intended recipient. Any
viewing, copying or distribution of, or reliance on this message by
unintended recipients is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
message in error, please notify us immediately by replying to the message
and deleting it from your computer.

My reply, short and sweet:

From: Alex James Brown
Sent: 18 March 2010 07:54
To: coddington@thedomaininvestors.com
Subject: Re: ukcabs.net (sent 03/18/10)


Looking to sell it for $40,000




Now, make no mistake, I know this domain isn’t worth anywhere near $40k, but, to my amazement, a reply!

From: coddington@thedomaininvestors.com
Sent: 18 March 2010 09:31
To: Alex James Brown
Subject: Re: ukcabs.net (sent 03/18/10)



Can you accept 39,000 USD?

Do you sell domain with a web site or just the name?

Domain without content is ok with me. Web site is not necessary.

Have you had your domain names evaluated in the past? I mean domain
appraisals. Without valuation we cannot be sure in the sale price. It’s very
important for me in terms of reselling too. But we must engage a valuation
company with REAL manual service. So I will only accept valuations from
independent sources I and my partners trust.

To avoid mistakes I asked domain experts about reputable appraisal

Please check this blog with suggestions from other sellers and buyers:

If, for example, the valuation comes higher you can adjust your asking price
accordingly.  It will be fair. I also hope you can give me 12% – 15%

After you send me the valuation via email (usually it takes 1-2 days to
obtain it) we’ll continue our negotiations.

What is your preferred payment method:  Escrow.com, International wire
transfer, PayPal.com or something else?

Hope we can come to an agreement fast.

Looking forward to your reply.

Haggled me out of $1000 dollars. Damn.

My reply (sorry for the bad language, but I really do hate scammers)

From: Alex James Brown
Sent: 18 March 2010 09:51
To: coddington@thedomaininvestors.com
Subject: Re: ukcabs.net (sent 03/18/10)


yeah, absolutely,

sorry, I meant to say $40, but $39,000 is great! thanks.

yeah, I’ll sure do the appraisal now.

oh wait…



Go fuck yourself.

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