Monday, November 26, 2012

Eng Wang: Scamming from China

Text messages have been received saying things like:
Congrats! Please redeem your prize with this code: U9R5 http://www.bestbuy2013.net 
or words to that effect. Sometimes, people are told that they placed, second, third, fifth or whatever.

The website bestbuy2013.net (WHOIS) is owned by the same person as bestbuycodeverify.net (WHOIS) and bestbuycardcode.net (WHOIS), a Chinese national named Eng Weng. Here is his contact information that I gathered from the WHOIS searches I did on the websites

Eng Wang
4954 Wei Shen
Hong Kong China 5495839
Telephone: +86.852485354842
Email address: engwang100@yahoo.com

Scammers feel that they can operate out of China with impunity, since American law enforcement agencies have no jurisdiction over them. However, their servers can be cutoff, if they are based outside of China and these websites use servers based in Japan and the USA.

At last count, six websites have been registered by this person

1.  bestbuy2013.net 
2.  bestbuycardcode.net
3.  bestbuycodeverify.net
4.  bestbuypromocode.biz
5.  codewinners.net
6.  winningcode.net

The websites registered via Kalyhost have been deleted. The two remaining websites were registered under a German company, 1API GmbH, and I have filed complaints against them. You can file complaints of your own at info@1api.net as part of the effort to close these websites.

At the bottom of the websites is the "Privacy Policy" which is posted in hard-to-read text which I will repost for you

By clicking continue you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy
Information We Share This Privacy Policy applies to consumers that have signed up on the prizecenterdirect.us website. We may sell, brand or share your personal information that you supply to us with other 3rd party businesses so they can bring selected retail opportunities via direct mail, e-mail, SMS text messaging, telemarketing, pre-recorded messages, or automated attendant telemarketing. These businesses may include providers of direct marketing services and applications, including lookup and reference, data enhancement, suppression and validation and email marketing. For example, if you express interest in a particular product or service, you may be contacted by telephone regarding that particular product or service. prizecenterdirect.us collects minimal demographic and personally identifiable information from many users. This information is aggregated and analyzed to help us tailor future offers and to help our marketing partners and advertising agencies understand the demographics of our customers in order to evaluate the potential effectiveness and profitability of doing business with us. Part of our business model involves sharing personally identifiable information, such as name and address, with third-party marketing concerns. While prizecenterdirect.us cannot control the practices of our advertisers and third-party marketers, we endeavor at all times to do business with reputable partners who also follow a best practices model regarding your privacy.
All information provided to prizecenterdirect.us by the users of this site may be used to support our suppression, validation and enhancement services to other marketing companies, advertising agencies, compilers and data companies.
As an example, opt-out information may be shared with other marketing partners so that those users opting out of further offers are suppressed from the partner's mailings or promotions, as well as our own. In addition to complying with our users' preferences, it simply makes good business sense to mail only to those customers who have indicated a desire to receive such mailings.
prizecenterdirect.us's business model includes participating in affiliate network programs and other co-marketing partnerships to promote our site. We reserve the right to share with 3rd parties the information we collect on this site for any purpose.

These three websites operate under the umbrella of prizecenterdirect.us which is an anonymously registered website whose servers are based in the USA.

Entering a code or clicking "Don't Have A Code?" takes you to a weblink run by freegiftcardtoday.com which is another anonymously registered website whose servers operate in the USA and the United Kingdom.

Despite seeming to be very popular with textspammers, Best Buy is not the most popular ploy of these people. Walmart is, as you can see from this list of links to freegiftcardtoday.com's subdomains:

Where Visitors Go on Freegiftcardtoday.com
Subdomain & Percent of Visitors
walmart.freegiftcardtoday.com 35.56%
target.freegiftcardtoday.com 21.46%
bestbuy.freegiftcardtoday.com 17.60%
targetcard.freegiftcardtoday.com 8.04%
newipad.freegiftcardtoday.com 4.57%
ipad.freegiftcardtoday.com 3.65%
costco.freegiftcardtoday.com 2.83%
iphone5.freegiftcardtoday.com 2.10%
twilight2.freegiftcardtoday.com 1.95%
I really don't know what can be done about these people. They give themselves plausible deniability by linking to foreign-based websites, so they disavow any responsibility for their actions. Hopefully, some sort of action can be taken by governments and multinational corporations, assuming they want to even try to stop them.

Duane Browning


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