Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Scam Letter Using Fake Hawaiian Electric Job Offer

I received the following email:

Re: Employment Opportunities
Friday, July 16, 2010 9:55 AM
From: "Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc."

Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc 
900 Richards Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
We have a job opening for the position of Accounts receivable officer. Would you like to work from your home and get paid weekly ?? We are offering this position to all interested applicants. Please carefully read through. 
This employment opportunity is targeted at providing part/full time job seekers, and also people who would like to working from home, and get paid weekly. 
Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc is a well established provider of Electrical and Telecommunications service solutions, Established in 1891, Hawaiian Electric procures, warehouses, and delivers just about any kind of electrical or communications and data product, component, or related service to its customers. It stocks and sells hundreds of thousands of items from thousands of manufacturers.
We deliver high quality precision products to some of the largest and best known companies in far back Asia, Europe, the Regions of America and Rest of The world. You will find our high quality Electronics in the BEST products on the market today. 
We serve the entire Europe, United States/Canada and a growing export market, particularly in the supplies of Electrical and Telecommunications products. 
Your primary task as a representative of the company would be to coordinate payments from customers and help us with the payment process. You are not involved in any sales. Once orders are received and sorted, we deliver the product to the customer, after this has been done, the customer has to pay for the products but in most cases we make our clients prepay for orders or items they order for. 
About 90 percent of our customers prefer to pay through Certified Checks or Money Orders drawn from the United States/Canada based on the amount involved. We then decided to throw open this new contract -to-hire job position as a way of giving back to the Nation in form of extra job creation and as a way of corporate social responsibility to the populace and ultimately to fill up this position. 
Your First Primary task (Collection of Payments): 
1. Receive payment from our Customers or Clients. 
2. Cash Payment at your Local Bank. 
3. Deduct 10 % which will be your percentage/pay on Payment processed 
4. Forward balance after deduction of percentage/pay to any of the offices you will be contacted to send payment to. 
You will have a lot of free time doing another job, because this job is part time, you also will get good income, but this job is very challenging and you should understand it. We are sure you will be a diligent and timely worker; you do not need any form of data entry experience to perform the job duties. 
Get back to us with the below information, so that we can add your mailing address to our Regional database and forward it to our customers for them to start sending payments. 
First name................... 
Middle name.................. 
Last name.................... 
Address Line 1............... 
Address Line 2............... 
Zip/Postal code.............. 
Home phone................... 
Cell phone................... 
Your response to this email is needed, so that we can reconfirm your mailing/residential address details we have in our database. 
We will be updating you as soon as a payment is being sent to you, and you will be directed as to where to have the remaining 90% of the money sent to, after the deduction of your 10% wage on any payments received and processed by you. 
A swift acknowledgment of the receipt of this email will be appreciated. 
Thanks for Your Total Understanding. 
Richard M. Rosenblum,
Chairman, President and CEO, Hawaiian Electric Co. Inc  
900 Richards St. 
Honolulu, HI 96813

Actually, I had received a similar letter from the same scammer using the Sending Address hawaiinelectric1891@zzuli.edu.cn but subsequent emails use the addresses dispalyed above.

I contacted Hawaiian Electric about this and they told me that they were already aware of it and the emails had been circulating since early April 2010. They advised me to simply ignore them.

I then contacted the email providers of W.CN and ZING.VN in an effort to get the addresses shutdown, but I have not heard back from either of them. In fact, it was after I had contacted ZING that the scammer began to use the W.CN address as a Response Address.

Tracing the IP of the first email, I discovered that it had been sent from Ghana, which is not unusual since scammers will use any free email system that they can find and prefer those which are most difficult for complaintants to have closed.

The second email was traced back to Vietnam, which is the home country of the email service ZING.VN, while W.CN is from China. As both websites use Chinese or Vietnamese text on their websites, I have concluded that the scammers are Vietnamese who are also literate in the Chinese language or are Chinese scammers literate in Vietnamese. The ZZULI.EDU.CN address is the website of Zhengzhou University of Light Industry which is a public university located in Zhengzhou, Henan, China, so a Chinese identity is more likely.

The initial Ghana IP brings up the possibility that Ghanan scammers initially helped the Chinese scammers get started, which is not an unknown occurrence among scammers who will often help each other get scams started, often in exchange for a share of the money raised or will get whatever personal information is gathered from potential victims.

I have also reported the original email to the administration of the school itself, but there is no telling what kind response I will get, if any.

As for the phone number, it appears to be valid. I notified the police in the city where the phone number is registered, Lilburn, Georgia. If the phone number weren't valid, it is unlikely that it would have been included in the email or that the scammer would offer that as a means to contact him. I haven't heard back from the Lilburn Police either.

Scams are more known to be run from Africa, but can come from any country. In fact, I am surprised that it has taken this long for Chinese scammers to get in on the action. Russian scammers have been active for years, mostly with fake business offers and romance scams. Then again, Russian criminals are usually quick to jump in whenever there is the possibility of making a quick ruble, while Chinese criminals are more known to be very patient and test the waters, see how others are doing, and then move in with full force. Essentially the same as the Chinese military.

In the past, Chinese hackers have engaged in a covert war against the US government, businesses and American hackers. This is more done out of sense of Chinese patriotism and a resentment over what they perceive as American arrogance, than a general desire to cause havoc. In fairness, American hackers are known to cause havoc for its own sake, as in the case of 4chan, 711chan and others, though they are also known to go after genuinely bad people like animal abusers, child molesters, and racists.

I received emails from the scammer on July 10, 12 and the 16th, so I'm guessing that he runs through his list every few days. It is with a certain sense of amusement that he sent an email to some one who actually lives in Hawaii and can easily find Hawaiian Electric's real phone number, rather than the fake one used in the emails. Obviously, anyone from Hawaii would recognize that the phone number should have an 808 area code and not a 770 code. Never mind the fact that the VN and CN suffixes would be an obvious tipoff that something was amiss. Nevertheless, some one from outside Hawaii may miss the obvious discrepancies and send their personal information to the scammer and who knows where it will end-up?

Just passing this on.

Duane D. Browning


Anonymous said...

I thank you for this information. I received this exact letter on July 23, 2010. I am always skeptical of emails asking for information about myself, but this letter look very real. I decided to look up the company and found different numbers. I then looked up the number and came across your post. It is very helpful and informative.

Arnold said...

Closing down free email addresses used by scammers has little effect as they are easily replaced. In fact it can do more harm than good.
It makes it harder for anti-fraud sites to keep track of scammers if email addresses are closed.
Google reports nhawaiianelectric@w.cn as fraudulent. If it is ever closed, it will take time for its replacement to be identified.

Eric said...

Thanks for taking the time to post and educate/share.