Identify Spoof Emails and Stop Identity Thef

Posted In: General Chat 

Today`s topic is Identifying Spoof emails and protecting you and your bank
account from online fraud!

Before I begin I will give you a bit of background on this article.

I first wrote the piece about 8 months ago and made it into an e-Book. Since
then Spoof emails have been getting much more advanced and the fraudsters are
getting even smarter, I found this out the hard way 🙁

Take a look at the image below:


That`s a screenshot of my bank statement in January 2006, have a look at the
four charges from “OceanViewSA”. The transactions were all made on
the same day and it wiped £500 straight out of my bank account. These
charges were unauthorized and were not made by me, I had been scammed!

I quickly phoned up the bank and told them what had happened. They quickly
started an investigation into the transactions and found out that someone had
used my card details to deposit the £500 into some sort of online casino
website. Luckily for me the bank returned the £500 to my account but it
just goes to show how easy it is for these scammers to get your details. Thats
why I felt the need to update my article so hopefully the same thing won`t happen
to any of you, enough chat, let`s begin 🙂

What is a spoof email?

Spoof emails (sometimes also called “Phishing”) are emails that pretend
to be from a company or bank. The most common often come from eBay, PayPal,
Barclays Bank etc. These emails will then contain a web link, if you click on
this link then you will be taken to a login page and asked to enter your details.
Most of these scammers go a long way to try and get your details, most spoof
emails contain links to identical websites and users are tricked into entering
their personal information. If you submit your information through one of these
spoof websites then the fraudster has all of your details and can commit crimes
using your identity.

How do they get my email address?

You may wonder how the scammers got your address or knew you were a member
of a particular bank or institution. Often it is just good luck on the part
of the scammers. They normally do not target individuals, but send out thousands
of scam emails to randomly generated email addresses, in the hope that just
a few will be successful. They also trawl the web for valid addresses they can
use, and swap this information with each other. If you have ever posted on an
Internet forum or published something on the web, there’s a good chance your
address is out there somewhere just waiting to be found. If you have fallen
victim before, your address is normally added to a list of ‘easy victims’, and
you are likely to then receive even more scams.

How can I identify these emails?

Here are 4 simple tests that you can perform on any email you suspect is a
spoof. Your email can only pass the test if it passes ALL FOUR of the tests.
If your email passes all of the four tests then you can be 99.9% certain that
it is a genuine email. If your email passes all four of the tests then we would
also advise you to check the “Other Tips” section just to double check
that your email is genuine.

If your email fails

If your email fails JUST ONE of the four tests then the email is a spoof and
shouldn’t be replied to and should be deleted immediately from your computer.
Even if your email fails the test, I would still advise you to check out the
“Other Tips” page for more good ways to spot a spoof email.

If you are still in doubt

Unless you are 100% sure that your email is genuine, DO NOT click on any links
within the email. Contact the company in question (See the “reporting a
spoof” page) and ask them to confirm if the email is genuine or a spoof.

Test 1 – Who is the email addressed to?

Have a look at how the email addresses you. Most spoofs will say something
along the lines of “Dear eBay user”. This is the very first thing
you should look for in a spoof email. Any email that doesn’t address you by
your name is a spoof. Ebay, PayPal and banks always address you by the name
you registered with on their site, they NEVER send out emails saying

“Dear valued customer”, “Dear member” etc.

If your email isn’t addressed to you personally then it is a spoof! If your
email is addressed to you then move onto the next test to see if it is a spoof
email. Some more advanced spoof messages have started to include your name or
email address instead of the generic “Dear member” or “Dear user”.
So even if your email were addressed to you I would strongly advise you to carry
out the 3 other tests.

Test 2 – Where does the link go?

Most spoof emails will contain a link telling you to verify your details. You
can quickly tell if your email is a spoof by hovering your mouse over the link.
When your mouse is over the link, look in the bottom left hand corner of your
screen and you will see the “link destination”. The destination of
a spoof link will usually look something like this:


Compare this with a real eBay link:

And you can see the difference. You can easily check if you email is a fake
by looking at the first part of the link destination, if the destination is
a combination of numbers (102.382.54.23) or a link like the one in my spoof
link above then the chances are that your email is a spoof.

Any non-spoof link will contain the name of the company in the first part of
the link, eg:

Please note: Some spoof links will contain the words “eBay” or “PayPal”
in the final part of the link. These are also spoofs!

All real emails will only contain the company name in the very first part of
the link; after http://. If you still aren’t sure if you have a spoof email,
move onto the next test.

Test 3 – Who really did send you the email?

This test may seem a little confusing but don’t worry it isn’t as difficult
as it looks. What we are going to do is find out where the email came from.
Most people don’t know this but you can trace the origin of your emails in most
mail programs. To do this we have to view the “FULL message header”,
here is how you do this in the following email programs. If your program isn’t
listed here please contact your email provider for instructions:

Hotmai – 1. Click on “Options” 2. Click on “Mail display settings”
3. The 3rd option can be used to display the header settings, select “Full”
from the check boxes 4. Click on “OK” to save your settings

Outlook Express – 1. Right click on the email and select “Properties”
2. Select the “Details” tab

Now that we can view the message headers, here is how you identify a spoof:

Look in the part of the header that says “Received From”. If the
email has come from anyone other than the sender it’s a spoof. I had a spoof
email and performed this test and notice that the email had been sent from a
Yahoo account. Obviously a real email from eBay would not have been sent from
a Yahoo address!

Test 4 – Click on the link

Only try this if your email has passed the previous 3 tests. Some spoof emails
have been known to contain viruses that are activated by clicking on the link.
Please ensure that you have a good virus scanner installed on your PC before
proceeding. If you have important data on your PC you may also wish to backup
that data on a removable backup device.

When you click the link in your email a web browser will open and take you
to what looks like a legitimate login page. There are two ways to identify a
spoof login page, and I will show you both of them! Have a look in the address
bar at the top of the login page. Have a look at the http:// part of the URL.
Any genuine login page from eBay, PayPal or your bank WONT start with “http://”
it will start with:


The “s” in https:// stands for “secure” and is there to
show you that you are about to submit data over a secure connection.

Any page not starting with https:// is a spoof. The second difference between
the two pages is the padlock icon in the bottom right hand of the screen. Notice
that the spoof login page doesn’t have a padlock, and the genuine eBay login
page does. This padlock appears to show you that you are about to submit data
over a secure connection. If your login page DOESNT have a padlock icon in the
bottom corner of the screen then it is a spoof!

Other Tips for spotting Spoofs

1. Punctuation – Read your email carefully and look for any spelling
mistakes. You can be sure that any genuine emails wont contain simple spelling

2. Adverts? – Real emails from eBay don’t contain adverts for burger

3. Hotmail identity check – A new feature in hotmail now warns you
if a senderID could not be verified. Any spoof email will contain this warning.
(please note that recently I received a genuine email from eBay that contained
this warning, so don’t judge an email purely by this method)

4. PIN number – Any website asking for your PIN (personal identification
number) is a spoof. Do not enter your PIN number! If you have entered and submitted
your PIN then contact your bank immediately.

5. Popup boxes – Some spoof sites will include popup message boxes
like the one below. Genuine sites don’t use popup boxes telling you to enter

6. False sense of urgency – Most spoof emails will make you think
that your account is at threat if you don’t act quickly. This is not the case.

7. eBay Messages – Any genuine email sent to you from eBay will also
appear in the “My Messages” section of eBay. To access your eBay messages,
login to ebay and click on “My eBay”. On the left hand side of the
screen you will see a “My Messages” link. Click on this; if the email
you received in your inbox isn’t listed there then it is a spoof email.

8. Ignore the email address – Ignore the email address that the email
was sent from. Almost all spoof emails will appear as if they are from a genuine
address. Some of the emails I receive are “from”:

9. Download the eBay toolbar – The eBay toolbar is a great piece of
software that can be used to spot spoofs. As soon as you enter a spoof website
from eBay or PayPal the toolbar will give you a warning telling you that web
page is a spoof. The Ebay toolbar is FREE to download.

That`s the end of the article, thanks for reading! If you have any questions
or would like to make a comment on the article, as always feel free. I read
every comment that you post and do my very best to reply to them!

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10 Responses to “Identify Spoof Emails and Stop Identity Thef”
  1. Lou D says:

    Good advice.
    I get loads of these often pretending to be PayPal but when I investigate they usually come from some Free site. I have started sending a message to the free page provider dont know if it does any good but reporting it via Ebay or Aol certainly doesnt have any effect.

  2. Darren Kaye says:


    Once again some excellent information and advice. It certainly does pay to be on your list and for that I appluade you. Can we have some articles on podcasting and developing your own software.


    Darren Kaye

  3. Dan (el_passo) says:

    Lou D – You can report Spoof`s at (I think thats correct!), I should have probably added that to the article!

    Thanks Daz, developing your own software could be a good idea for a newsletter. I will have to see how Auction SOS is received and then I should be able to compile a pretty good report for you all.

  4. Greetings Dan,

    These scam merchants are infuriating aren’t they! This is a great article and my question for you is this: May I post a link to it in an autoresponder sequence as part of my series at ?

    I appreciate your post.

    Kindest regards,

    Andreas Krokene

  5. Dan (el_passo) says:

    HI Andreas,
    That will be fine.


  6. Cathy Jackman says:

    I only found your brilliant advice by searching for Oceanviewsa via Google after having several chunks of money taken out of my bank account. In just one day, I was scammed for almost £2,000!
    Fortunately, the Bank will cover this, but I can honestly say that I have never input any personal or Bank details via any emails or pop-ups. I alwasy check via my on-line bank account to see if they have requested this. However, I must say that in the last three months or so, I have been indundated with spam emails. I have continually added the sender to my block senders list and contacted my service provider, but the emails continue. The problem is that they are definatley all in the same style so must be from the same sender, but the originating email address is always different. I’m tearing my hair out and I’m sure this has something to do with it all. Any suggestions?
    Keep up the good work Dan – I was really pleased to find your Site

    Kind regards


  7. Dan (el_passo) says:

    Glad you liked it Cathy. You can receive notifications everytime I post a new topic by subscribing to my newsletter – there is a link in the top right of the page.

  8. Denise says:

    well here I am adding to your comments regarding ‘spoof’ emails and ‘spamming’…I checked my bank account to day..and I’ve been ‘done’ by the same company…Oceanview…they got £120..but another company have taken £650 also…the same companys tried this in December but for some reason the money never left my account, sadly this time it has…my bank were a great help but the ‘fraud’ debt almost blamed me or my partner for it back then!! they continued to ask where we were at the time of the transactions…at 2am…we were where most people are…in bed!!!
    I rang ‘’ today as all there details are on my statement…strangely they have no details of me… I wonder why that could be??? maybe because I don’t even know who they are never mind use them!!…they wanted all my details…a copy of my bank statements would you believe!!! so once again my card has been cancelled and I’m left waiting for the fraud dept to get in contact…no doubt they will blame me…but I will pass this site onto them so they can read it…and show them that I am not the only unfortunate person that has been ‘scammed’…thanks for all this info

  9. Alan Wyatt says:

    I too have a couple of entries for oceanviewsa on my statement – I delete all e-mails that are spam normally without even reading them so I’m not sure how they got my details.

    Its only 2x£8 but I’ll still be speaking to my bank about the entries.

  10. Philip Cohen says:

    eBay introduces absolute anonymity for (shill) bidders

    In Australia and the UK eBay has now obscured auction bidding to the point that genuine bidders have got absolutely no chance of detecting and thereby protecting themselves from “shill” bidding (a criminal offence in most civilised countries) by unethical vendors. Notwithstanding eBay’s statements to the contrary, this application of absolute anonymity by eBay serves no purpose other than to deceive consumers; and the same criticism has always applied to eBay’s other facility, “User ID kept private” (aka “the shill bidders’ stairway to paradise”). Again, notwithstanding eBay’s various pronouncements about shill bidding being banned on eBay, eBay is now knowingly “aiding and abetting” such shill bidders, at the expense of consumers …

    The full version of the above comment (on at: