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Users co-opted by devious bulk mailers

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Spammers are trying to con users into setting up email accounts on their behalf via a series of bogus emails. The email requests, which claim to help Yahoo! prevent automated registrations, actually attempt to dupe users into creating fresh email accounts for spammers.

Last years Yahoo! Began using technology to block the computerised creation of web mail accounts. Rather than manually create new accounts themselves, spammers have found out a way to con ordinary computer users into assisting them.

Email filtering firm MessageLabs reports that the scam emails contain a fake Yahoo.com URL which redirect through a Google URL three times, in order to obfuscate the path of the link, before landed surfers on a fake Yahoo! web address. This page loads a real Yahoo! help page with legitimate information explaining the code verification process, followed by a fake pop-up window which shows the user a Yahoo picture ID and asks them to enter a code.

Alex Shipp, senior anti-virus technologist at MessageLabs, said: "This scam is another demonstration of how spammers and fraudsters attempt to manipulate computer users into doing their dirty work for them. Not only do they try and turn innocent users' machines into zombies for spam distribution, but they want them to set up new email accounts for them as well. The advantages for a spammer include increased capacity and flexibility when sending spam, as well as making it harder to trace the spammers themselves."

MessageLabs urges Yahoo! members to be wary of fraudulent emails asking them to verify their Yahoo! ID code. The Yahoo! scam emails are being detected in relatively low volumes. MessageLabs speculates this might be because scammers are trying to maintain a low profile. MessageLabs said the method used in the Yahoo! verification scam follows a similar pattern to phishing attacks directed at a well-known US bank back in September. These fraudulent emails had the same triple Google redirection, suggesting that the same group could be responsible for both scams. ®

The bogus emails have the characteristics shown here:

Subject: Automatic Yahoo identifier completion

Body text:

Dear Yahoo! Member,

We must check that your Yahoo! ID was registered by real people. So, to help Yahoo! prevent automated registrations, please click on this link and complete code verification process:

[ URL removed ]

Thank you.

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