Monday, 13 March 2017

Hoax email - not a Quotation from Anglo American Platinum

Whether you're looking for ways to earn money or simply going about your everyday business, if you spend much time online you're sure to encounter a lot of scams. Often you need do no more than check your inbox to find a con artist hoping you are gullible enough to believe that it's really possible to get rich without doing anything. Or you may find an email disguised to look like a genuine business deal.

I found one of the latter in my inbox this morning.

I'm not a business person. My interests lean more towards the arts, so when I saw an email with the subject "QUOTATION" my first thought was the someone was sending me some words of wisdom from a famous person. But no, this one was all business, allegedly coming from Anglo American Platinum, a company with which I'm not qualified to do business. Clearly there was something 'phishy' going on here.

This was the body of the email:
Good Day,

You are hereby invited to submit a quotation for the item on the RFQ DOCUMENT Please find attached herewith a request for quotation for your kind attention.We require these components at your earliest convenience. We now await for your urgent response.

Kind regards,
Mpumi Sithole
Procurement Officer 
 A Google search for "anglo american platinum hoax email" quickly yielded all the proof I needed. Anglo American Platinum had published a warning about this particular scam as far back as 17 November 2016. That's nearly four months ago! Clearly this scam is catching some people or the con artists would have moved on to a different one by now.

Alarmingly there really is a Mpumi Sithole working for Anglo American, but in media, not procurement.

The email address is cleverly constructed to look legitimate at first glance. It's only when you stop to look more closely that you notice the two spelling mistakes - a common feature in hoax emails.

I have no idea what information is requested in the RFQ document, I don't open attachments from con artists for fear that there may be a virus lurking inside them.

If you receive this email, I suggest you delete it immediately. I've already done just that.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Do You Remember Themestream?

For two years Bubblews was probably the hottest writing site around. Some people were making hundreds of dollars every month without ever having to write quality content. All that was required was to write a few 400 character posts every day, then spend the rest of your time socialising with other members of the site. It all seemed so easy, but in the end the money ran out and thousands of members were forced to accept that Bubblews couldn't pay all they owed them. Finally in November 2015 Bubblews closed down with no warning.

This story brings back memories of my first venture into the world of online writing.

Themestream was an early forerunner of Bubblews, dating back to around the year 2000. The concept was similar but formatting your articles was a lot more work. As far as I recall it was necessary to upload articles using some form of HTML and I have vague memories of  the special software necessary to prepare my work for publication.

Like Bubblews, Themestream paid per view, though there was nothing for comments and I'm not sure the like system had even been invented then. I believe that Themestream started out offering a massive ten cents per view and some people were earning a lot of money there. Sadly I was a late arrival and rates had already fallen by then, but I was still able to accumulate about $30 in my account before Themestream went broke and announced that they would be closing the site within days. I never saw a cent of my "earnings".

The bug had bitten though and I tried a couple of other sites after Themestream closed. The results were the same, with both folding before I got any money for my efforts.

Shortly after that I bought my first digital camera and I drifted away from writing into the world of photography. It was about a decade before I tried writing for money again. Fortunately my luck was a bit better this time. Bubblews was the first writing site that actually paid me, but I still lost out on a few payments in the end.

You can read more about my Bubblews experience in an article I published at HubPages in early 2015.