Fake Facebook Notifications

Mark Berry December 4, 2012

It seems that fake notification emails from social networking sites are the #1 way that spammers and virus writers try to lure you to their sites. Here’s an example of a fake Facebook notification email and how to tell:

Fake Facebook Notification


Facebook: Scam Central

Mark Berry June 3, 2010

In the last 24 hours I received two invitations from different Facebook friends to sign up for “events.” Both emails actually came from Facebook, and both included the first and last name of my friend as the person extending the invitation. The first promised me a $1000 Best Buy gift certificate:

Facebook Scam 1

The second was “only” for free ring tones, but besides the sender, it actually lists two other people I know as invitees:

Facebook Scam 2

Generous as they were, I didn’t accept these invitations, since I figured that would lead either to a virus site, a phishing site, or (worst) sending the invitation to all of my Facebook friends.

A few rules of thumb:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If out of the blue, friends suddenly invite you to “events” that are supposedly product giveaways, don’t accept. You might send them a private email suggesting that they change their Facebook password in case it’s been hacked.
  • Facebook is not a secure platform. Assume that anything you put on Facebook will be available to any Page, fan club, event, or friend that somehow earns the trust or interest of one of your friends. Set your privacy settings as high as possible, don’t post your birthday, and consider blocking Facebook access on work computers.

Phony Facebook Email

Mark Berry June 3, 2010

Recently I received a very legitimate-looking email supposedly from Facebook. It wanted me to click on a link to read a message. Even though the visible link text shows the link going to facebook.com, the actual link would have taken me to a Romanian web site.

The trick:  in Outlook 2007, hover over (do not click on) the link with your mouse. The real destination will appear in a small window. If the address doesn’t match the one in the email, or if you are not sure it is the valid address of a trusted vendor, don’t click on it!

Phony Facebook Email


Testing SMTP Using Telnet

Mark Berry August 17, 2007

I’m trying out a hosted anti-spam solution. This service works by becoming my public-facing mail server (DNS MX record), and relaying non-spam mail to the mail server in my office.

Due to a configuration error, I lost about 15 hours of email–the host wasn’t relaying for my domain. Email was bouncing with the message “553 Relaying is not supported”.

Lesson learned (with thanks to Ezra Herman):  before switching DNS, use Telnet to test the connection to the host and make sure it is accepting email for my domain. Here’s how to do it:

XFOR: Telnet to Port 25 to Test SMTP Communication

The configuration is fixed, I sent myself an email using a Telnet session to the anti-spam host, so now I can update my DNS!

Update 4/28/2009:  This TechNet article explains testing SMTP with Telnet when authentication (but not SSL encryption) is needed:

How to Use Telnet to Test SMTP Communication

Update 12/18/2009:  I tried to use Telnet to test sending a message to Go Daddy’s email server (smtp.secureserver.net). But whenever I typed

MAIL FROM:Admin@test.com

as described in KB 153119, I got this message:

501 #5.5.2 syntax error 'MAIL FROM:Admin@test.com'

I noticed in a MailEnable SMTP log that it encloses email addresses in angle brackets. Sure enough, when I typed

MAIL FROM:<Admin@test.com>

I got the expected response:

250 sender <Admin@test.com> ok



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