Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dr Mehmet Oz and the Holy Grail

Well, it appears that a hacker is making the rounds and even managed to compromise my email account. I managed to change my password before too much damage was done. At least, I hope so.

Anyway, this asswipe compromises accounts for the purpose of mass-mailing people in an attempt to get them to visit a website. SInce they went through the trouble to get my attention, I decided to spend a few minutes looking them over.

The initial link that is sent out is
which redirects to this website

The site is  registered in the United States to
Brendan Reville

800 5th Ave, ste 101-396
Seattle, WA 98104
Telephone: (206) 228-2307

The site where the actual advertisement is posted is also registered in The USA to
Edward Johnson
top ave 19-06
los angeles, 12345
Telephone: (738) 357-4736

Edward Johnson also owns numerous other websites, most of which seem to be related to weight loss products.

So, what is so earth-shaterring that they wanted to hack my email account in order to advertise it to everyone in my address books?

The product is called Garcinia Cambogia, a plant native to southeastern Asia and is closely related to the purple mangosteen, which is another plant being marketed for its alleged weight loss properties. The fruit is used in preparations of curries and is also used in traditional medicine as a purgative (i.e. it makes you defecate) so it isn't an uncommonly-used plant in its native habitat.

As far as its use as a weight loss supplement, it has been tested and the results were not encouraging. The chief evangelist of this latest bullshit product is Dr Mehmet Oz, who has been taken to task for his use of flimsy evidence or no evidence in his never-ending quest to separate people from their money.

In one meta-analysis, the extract did no better than a placebo. So, save your money. You'll also be saving your liver, since liver toxicity from garcinia products has been reported. Quoting from the abstract
There is a growing number of case reports of hepatoxicity from the widely marketed weight-loss supplement Hydroxycut, which contains the botanical ingredient Garcinia cambogia. These case reports may substantially undercount the true magnitude of harm. Based on the past experience with harmful dietary supplements, US regulators should assume the more precautionary approach favored by Canada and Europe. Lacking effective adverse event surveillance for supplements, or the requirements to prove safety prior to coming to the market, case reports such as those summarized here assume added importance.
Dr Mehmet Oz makes his living by shilling for various products that claim to help people lose weight. However, despite actually being a physician, his specialty is cardiothoracic surgery,  the medical field  involving surgical treatment of diseases affecting organs inside the thorax (i.e. your chest) such as treatment of conditions of the heart and lungs.Despite his lack of specialty-specific qualifications, Dr Oz gives advice relating to diet and weight loss. People interested in weight loss should be consulting a dietician, not a thoracic surgeon.

Sadly, he also gets other medical doctors in on the game, having them as guests on his infomercials. Personally, I'd rather not have anything to do with any physician who appears on one of Mehmet Oz's programs, because I'd be wondering if they would be trying to sell me something I didn't need, rather than trying to really help me get better.

In my opinion, Dr Oz takes advantage of some people's desire to lose weight without watching what they eat or exercising. Essentially, marketing products to the lazy and uninformed.

Duane Browning

Monday, March 25, 2013

Help Wanted Scam Letter

I saw a Help Wanted ad posted multiple times on a classified ads website seeking a personal assistant. It was posted so often that I became curious about it and sent a reply. I wish that I had saved a copy of the ad itself, but I post the reply I received here:
From: Brian Parker

Subject: Personal Assistant Position PT

I'm looking for someone who can handle my business & personal errands at his/her spare time. Someone who can offer me these services:

* Mail services (Receive my mails and drop them off at UPS)
* Shop for Gifts
* Bill payment (pay my bills on my behalf)
* Sit for delivery (at your home) or pick items up at nearby post office at your convenience.

Let me know if you will be able to offer me any or all of these services.

I will love to meet up with you to talk about this job but I am currently away on business. I am in Australia so there will be no interview and that is why i stated that I need a trustworthy individual . I will pay you in advance to do my shopping and will also have my mails and packages forwarded to your address. If you will be unable to stay at your house to get my mails, I can have it shipped to a post office near you and then you can pick it up at your convenience.

When you get my mails/packages, you are required to mail them to where I want them mailed to. You don't have to use money out of your pocket. All you have to do is have the package(s) shipped to wherever I want and do my shopping. You are allowed to open the packages to reveal its content.

The content of the packages are Art Materials and Paintings, clothing, business and personal letters. All expenses and taxes will be covered by me. You will work between 15 to 20hrs a month.

The pay is $500 weekly. That is not a bad offer is it? I need your service because I am constantly out of town. I just bought into an Art Gallery here in Australia and would be here finalizing the buy and smoothing rough edges but I will be returning to the US as soon as this is done so this process will be on going till then and I will meet up with you when I return and then we can talk about the possibility of making this long term.

I will email you the list and pictures of what to shop for when I am ready. No heavy package is involved! You  can do the shopping at any nearby store. You will be shopping for Electronics and clothing.

I will provide you my personal UPS account number for Shipping. All you have to do is provide my account number to UPS and shipping charges will be billed to the account.

I will provide clear set of instructions for each task I need done as well as the funds to cover them.

If I were to mail you money to do my shopping plus upfront payment for your services, where will you want it mailed to? How should your name appear on the payment?If you are interested,Kindly provide me with the following details listed below to :

Full Name:
Full Address:
Zip Code:
Home Phone:
Cell Phone: For SMS alerts Only

Well, let me know if you are able to handle the position and I hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you,

Brian Parker
I think that this is a scam and here's why:
  1. the reply was sent to me with the "To" field empty, as is often done when a scammer sends an email to multiple recipients while not wanting them to realize that they are just one of many getting the same message. Likewise, the email did not address me by name;
  2. the domain is anonymously-registered website with servers based in the United States. Attempting to go to that site takes you to and not to a legitimate website. The address in an undeveloped website which has been created solely for a scammer to use as an email address to give the appearance of legitimacy;
  3. However, there is a legitimate website and that URL takes you to a website registered in Australia with servers located in that country.It's obvious that the scammer set-up the fake domain in an attempt to impersonate the legitimate one.
The Help Wanted ad is obviously part of a scam, most likely attempting to steal your personal information.

Duane Browning

Sunday, March 3, 2013 Looks Suspicious

UPDATE!!! The website is apparently down. Whether this is permanent or temporary is impossible to know at this time. 

One of my Facebook friends posted this on his timeline. Since I was tagged on the photo, I was informed of it via private message.
Have you heard? this site is glitching. They forgot to insert their payment page. I got an Ipad and didnt have to pay! This is the 2nd I place an order. The first one came in the mail already. Hurry before they fix it. Go to: 711iPad
The accompanying picture that I was tagged on was this
 I decided to do a WHOIS check on before I went to the site. As you can see, the site was only recently created as of the date of this blogpost being written. The email address associated with this website is not affiliated with any other site that I am aware of right now. The street address appears to be fake and I seriously doubt if the owner has the unfortunate name "Willie Stroker". The phone number given - 612-548-7398 - is actually a landline in Minneapolis, Minnesota, not a New York City number.

I decided to take a shot and go directly to the site. What I found there really surprised me. Have a look
Your eyes aren't deceiving you. The entire webpage is made to look exactly like a Facebook page. If it wasn't for the link in the address bar, I would not have known that I wasn't simply visiting a Facebook page set-up for by the site owner.

Normally, profile names have a link directly to the person whose page it is. But on this one, every single link - including the "ads" to the right - links back to

Pretty slick, I must admit.

Clicking on the link you'll find at "To participate in our iPad-3 quality test please Click here." takes you to another site run by and it looks like any scam site that offers you a "free" anything. The owner of branddealonline can also be discovered via WHOIS
Domain-ip:     IP173.193.167.170     United States
Domain-tld:    COM (Top Level Domain)
Domain-locked:     Locked
Creation date:     2011-10-19   (1 year)
Last update:     2012PM1026
Expiration date:     2013-10-19
NSNS0.DIRECTNIC.COM         IP74.117.217.20 Cayman Islands
NSNS1.DIRECTNIC.COM         IP74.117.222.20 Cayman Islands
Domain record:    Domain Name: BRANDDEALONLINE.COM
Whois Server:
Referral URL:
Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Updated Date: 19-oct-2012
Creation Date: 19-oct-2011
Expiration Date: 19-oct-2013
Whois data:
Graceton Media Group
10475 East Park Meadows
STE 600
Littleton, CO 80124


Administrative Contact:
Carrington, John email
10475 East Park Meadows
STE 600
Littleton, CO 80124

Technical Contact:
Carrington, John email
10475 East Park Meadows
STE 600
Littleton, CO 80124

Record last updated 10-26-2012 02:12:28 PM
Record expires on 10-19-2013
Record created on 10-19-2011

Domain servers in listed order:
Graceton Media Group owns and also owns, but branddealonline is their more popular site. They appear to be a real company registered in Littleton, Colorado.

Yeah, a real company that links to a website made to look exactly like a Facebook page.

I also discovered that, before the distribution of the 711iPad link, the people behind all this were distributing the link, as you can see from this poor guy whose Myspace page is filled-up by that crap. is no longer functioning, but it is registered to some guy in China. Why am I not surprised by that?

I advise staying away from these people. I'm guess that my friend's Facebook account was hacked or phished and the advertisement for 711iPad was posted without his permission, so I'm off to warn him.

UPDATE: upon further research I found this link which gave me information on the Kansas City-based servers of and it's a legitimate company called Joe's Data Center. Their contact information is
 Joe’s Datacenter Office
324 E. 11th St., FL 26
Kansas City, MO 64106
Phone: 816.326.0040
Toll Free: 877.JOE.DATA (877.563.3282)
e-mail Sales:
e-mail Security:

I don't think Joe's is aware of the activities of the site they're hosting, so please be polite when/if you contact them.

UPDATE: I have been informed that at least one of the 2000+ people that has read this article since it was posted sent an email to Joe's Data Center, along with a link to this blogpost. No response has been received. Either Joe's hasn't received the message, it got caught in a spam filter or Joe's received and read the message, but decided to take no action.

ANOTHER UPDATE: new websites were setup as a continued effort to keep the scam working. That site was (WHOIS), (WHOIS) and (WHOIS). Though these sites appear to be down, it shows that the scammers aren't going to give this one up without a fight. These site also uses Joe's Data Center as their servers, which makes me wonder why they seem to prefer that company over anyone else.

Duane Browning