My profile was hacked this October around the 3rd and I got it back a little after a week. Luckily they didn’t screw up my account while they had it but it was a very scary and uncertain time for me. I will tell you how it happened so that you will know what to look for. This type of hacking is called “Phishing” (as in fishing for something,) and it’s happening a lot now.
It’s easier to fall for this while we are going through these changes on Windows Live and are having a lot of technical problems at the same time. You start receiving more email from your server about problems they are having and how you can help. Most of the time these emails are sincere but Phishing is new and you think you are helping by giving your account information and they “get you” at a weak time.
One day in your email you get this:
Thru 10/14/10 10:10 PM
Attachments, pictures and links in this message have been blocked for your safety.
Dear Account Owner
This Email is from Hotmail Customer Care® and we are sending it to all Hotmail Accounts Owner for safety. We are having congestion due to the anonymous registration of Hotmail accounts so we are shutting down some Hotmail accounts and your account is among those to be deactivated. We are sending this email to you so that you can verify and let us know if this account is still valid? If it is, Please kindly confirm your account by first clicking on the show content link highlighted in yellow just above the subject line. The following information is needed to verify your account: Your User name, password, date of birth and your country information.
Click on the reply button and fill in your information:
- Full Name..................................
- User Name:...............................
- Date of Birth:..........................
- Country Or Territory:..........
After following the instructions in the sheet, your account will not be interrupted and will continue as normal. Thanks for your attention to this request. We apologize for any inconveniences.
Warning!!! Account owner that refuses to update his/her account after 24 Hours of receiving this warning will lose his or her account permanently.
The Windows Live Team
Microsoft respects your privacy. To learn more, please read our online Privacy Statement.
Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399, USA © 2010 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Doesn’t it look real? It certainly did in an email! I thought it was totally real and had never gotten any before this. It sounded like a scam but I didn’t want to lose my account in 24 hours and they are really making a lot of changes right now. This is the second one I got this week so I better answer this one. So, I gave in like a drug addict! "Don't take my Windows Live away!" So thinking it secure I gave them my information. This is how the term “Phishing” was coined.
So of course they used my password, changed it and I was out. While they were in my account they dumped all my friends (contacts in my email too when they were done with them) and changed my settings in Privacy. They also linked other email accounts of theirs to mine (three of them) and changed my secret question. All you need is an answer to a secret question on an account to get back into it with a password reset so they had installed back doors just in case I did get my account back so they could take it back again. I’m getting ahead of myself here…
About a week after answering the email I got a call from my mother on a Monday. I had just been on my account that weekend so I was surprised when she said my account may have been hacked because she received an email from me (like lots of you got) asking for money to be wired to me. Here's an example of the email:
Subject: I Need Your Help
Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2010 04:07:12 -0700
How are you doing? You may find it difficult to believe this but I don't have a choice than to tell you,I'm sorry I didn't inform you about my traveling to United Kingdom for a Seminar, I need you to do me a favor as soon as you receive this e-mail because I misplaced my wallet where my money and other valuable stuff were kept while coming back to the hotel from a function, I need you to assist me with a loan urgently I will be needing the sum of $2,800 to sort out my hotel bills and get myself back home, I will appreciate whatever you can afford to help me with and I will pay you back as soon as I return, please let me know if you can assist so that I can send you the details, your assistance will be greatly appreciated.
I tried to get into my account and felt sick to my stomach when I realized I'd been taken! Not only that but since they had linked their email accounts to mine any password resets I expected in my email they would receive too. Very smart but once I let MSN know they had done that I got my email reset through Comcast where they couldn't see what was going on. Once they get a hold of your email account they dig in deep cause they don't want to lose all of their fraudulent work! Also once you fall for this I guarantee you won’t do it again!
My friend James and I got an idea when he got one of these fake emails from me. We wrote an answer to the email trying to get more information. The email James sent back to them said this:
Date: Oct. 4th
Oh My God! How could I help>I really have been your friend and if you need anything at all you know my number. Just call collect and we can get this all taken care of.
This is what they sent back:
Thanks a lot for your response and concern. I will be happy if you can assist me in any way you can and I will appreciate whatever you can afford to help me with, you can send the money to my details through Western Union money transfer all you have to do is go to the closet western union location with the money in cash and instruct the agent to wire it to my personal details below:
Receiver's Name Rebecca Sanchez
Address: 11 Warwick Way, London, SW1V 4HT, United Kingdom
Please as soon as you send the money I will like you to email me the 10 digit (Mtcn) Numbers and all the details used in sending the money to me, I am counting on you and I look forward to read from you later today.
Of course no monies were wired and James didn't get another email after this because I think by then they knew I was trying to get my account back via that email link I mentioned earlier. This just goes to show how easy it is for them once they get your account info! As long as you will wire them the money through Western Union they can get it and it's one of the easiest ways to receive monies from people without getting caught or tracing it easily. I'm not surprised they didn't want to call James collect.
Once back in my account I found another important thing to keep track of and that is how many cell phones are attached to your account. Since you can get a 'code' from MSN for a one time password reset that gets sent to your cell phone you better make sure that once your account is hacked that it's your cell phone number that is still on the account and no others.
Mainly the hackers left the social settings of my account alone. The picture albums, blogs, my space and most of my profile settings hadn't been touched. I did think it strange that they did change some profile details inserting their own instead of mine. I got a birth date, they were an engineer, the secret question had been set to teacher, they changed the state to Texas but the few odd facts they did change didn't make any sense unless they were hoping I'd give up on Bekkie In Wonderland and they would have it to keep for ripping other people off. Who knows except one thing is clear. These are all creeps that want to use our good names to steal money from our friends and loved ones through our private contacts on our email accounts! And they will go to great lengths once they have your account, to keep and control it.
I'm very sorry for any inconvenience the hacking of my site has caused anyone I know. I'm keeping this profile until the bitter end. Welcome back to Bekkie In Wonderland and it's good to be back! I hope I answered all of your questions, if not I'm open to comments. Learn from me and my mistakes and next time hackers come Phishing make sure they go home without a catch.
Keep On Bloggin’!