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Phuket Live Wire: Don’t get mugged by your mates

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Phuket Live Wire: Don’t get mugged by your mates | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: I have been holding off writing about more email scams, waiting so I can write about nailing somebody and getting them thrown in jail. So far, no luck. But in the past week I’ve received two messages from people I know, here in Phuket, who have had their email accounts hijacked. That’s quite a coincidence – if it is a coincidence – so I figured I better warn you about the “mugging” scams.

Like the ‘419 scams’ I wrote about in April, these are also considered “Nigerian” scams, even if the perpetrator is living in Los Angeles or London. It’s been estimated that email scams are the third largest industry in Nigeria – no, that’s not a joke – with an estimated take of US$100,000 a day just from American victims.

Here is an example of messages I received, supposedly from Phuket residents, last week:

Sorry I didn’t inform you about my trip to Spain for a Program, Unfortunately for me all my money along with my bag where my passport and valuable things were got stolen at gun point on my way to the hotel where I lodged, since then I have been without any money, I am even owing the hotel here, so I will like you to assist me with a loan of 2950 Euro to sort-out my hotel bills and to get myself back home. I have reported the incident to the police here but they are not responding to the matter effectively, I will appreciate whatever and any amount you can afford to assist me with, I’ll Refund the money back to you as soon as i return,let me know if you can be of any help. I don’t have a phone where i can be reached, i only have access to internet here. Please let me know immediately if you can be of any help to my situation.

Thanks.

(This came in from a French Yahoo account (@yahoo.fr).

The messages were signed with the purported sender’s full name, telephone number and address, and both were sent to the email address I use in Thailand. They are absolutely, completely, utterly fake. I couldn’t trace the second message, but the first one was sent from Lagos, Nigeria.

Here’s how the scam works.

The thief recruits and develops a network of mules, in multiple countries. Frequently the mules are in the countries on visitor or educational visas, or with no visa at all. Good mules must be able to follow directions exactly, and have reasonably good IDs.

There are lots of stories about how the mules get recruited, but in some cases they’re local residents who respond to advertisements looking for “mail forwarders” or to “fulfill orders at home.”

The mules are told that they need to collect money sent to them, and forward it to someone else. In payment, they get to keep 10 per cent of the amount of the “order.” A good network of mules is worth its weight in gold. Literally. I’ve seen evidence that the mules are shared among scammers.

The thief then figures out how to break into your Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo mail account. There are lots of ways to do that. Consider that, in the past year, Steve Thomas has amassed a list of more than 28,000,000 user IDs (many of which are email addresses) and passwords (some encrypted, some plain text), which have been publicly posted on the internet. You can check your email address at his site: pwnedlist.com.

That isn’t the only source of email addresses and passwords. Botnets (which are primarily based on Windows XP computers) collect passwords. Some phishing emails have you “log in”, click a link that supposedly goes to your email account. You type in your email address and password, and the bad guys harvest it. There are many collections of swiped passwords sold in bulk on underground sites.

If the thief can log in to your email account, he (it’s usually a “he”) immediately changes the password. That keeps you out of your email account, makes it harder to figure out what happened, and even harder to fix it.

Frequently using automated tools (and increasingly using sophisticated CRM methods), the thief sends out the same message to all of the people in your address book. Then the scammer waits for responses. They rarely sit on an account for more than a day. In the interim, you can’t get into your account, and may not know why.

If the scammer’s smart they use an internet connection that’s basically untraceable, such as a Nigerian 3G wireless account, or use a VPN. The fact that they’re using Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo mail makes it difficult to trace without a court order, and if you can ever get a court order through, they’ll be long gone.

The thief follows a well defined script, possibly adding a twist in the plot along the way. The goal is to get you to send money to one of his mules, via Western Union, Moneygram, or postal money order – all of which are very hard to trace. It’s in the scammer’s interests to get you to transfer money out of your home country. That makes it virtually impossible to track.

After a day or so the scammer just walks away. You’re left with an email account you can’t log in to, a bunch of friends who are worried that you got mugged – some of whom may be embarrassed because either (a) they fell for the story and threw away their money to support some scammer, or (b) they fell for the story but were too cheap to help.

How to clean up afterwards? Each mail provider has their own steps for recovering hacked accounts. For specific information, Google “mail account hacked” and then the name of the service – Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo.

Woody’s Sandwich Shoppes hold computer sessions under the tutelage of Seth Bareiss every other Wednesday afternoon, from 1 to 3pm. If you have a Windows problem that needs to be solved, drop by one of Seth’s free afternoon sessions. Details in the Phuket Gazette Events Calendar.

Live Wire is Woody Leonhard’s weekly snapshot of all things internet in Phuket.

Follow him on Twitter:
@PhuketLiveWire, and “like” the pages at facebook.com/SandwichShoppe and facebook.com/phuketgazette.net, or send him mail at Woody@KhunWoody.com.

— Woody Leonhard

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Phuket

Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter

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Phuket’s Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | The Thaiger

The Soi Dog Foundation has officially opened its Humane Education Centre, the first of its kind in Thailand dedicated to the welfare of stray animals. The centre, located at the Soi Dog shelter in northern Phuket, forms part of the foundation’s Humane Education program. Rolled out in 2017, the program sees a team visit Thai schools to teach the next generation the basic principles of animal welfare and promote empathetic attitudes towards both owned pets and free-roaming strays.

The program has reached a total of 15,058 students and 861 teachers to date. With a dedicated classroom as well as educational tools and resources now on site at the shelter, Soi Dog will be able to expand the programme and reach an even greater number of young minds.

Co-founder and president of Soi Dog Foundation International John Dalley said, “The cornerstones of what we do – what I believe very firmly are the answers to the stray dog problem throughout Asia – are large-scale sterilisation of stray dogs and cats and education of, particularly, the next generation.

“We see all the time the problems that are being caused through us not respecting the environment and not respecting the other animals with whom we share this planet. That’s why education is so important.”

John also thanked the supporters and donors who made the construction of the centre possible. After cutting the ribbon, the students filed into the brand-new facility for the very first on-site class – a fun and interactive hour of roleplaying, brainstorming and problem solving.

Humane Education Manager Nuttawut “Film” Kumngern. said… “We want to encourage kindness toward animals, especially free-roaming dogs and cats, and teach youngsters to be responsible pet owners. This will sustainably reduce animal cruelty and pet abandonment.”

“We hope to one day see animal welfare incorporated into the curriculum in Thai schools, and our education centre is a great start.”

Soi Dog is ready to welcome school groups from Phuket and other provinces to the centre which can accommodate up to 40 students at any one time. Schools interested in participating are encouraged to email film@soidog.org

Phuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The ThaigerPhuket's Soi Dog Foundation opens Humane Education Centre at Mai Khao shelter | News by The Thaiger

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International Schools

Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket

The Thaiger

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Police have yet to investigate illegal hiring of foreign teachers at international school in Phuket | The Thaiger

Chalong police in Phuket say they have yet to start investigating the illegal hiring of foreign teachers at an international school in Rawai, south of the island. Palm House International School allegedly hired foreign teachers illegally in which 2 were arrested by Phuket Immigration police on November 4.

Somkiet Sarasin, the leading investigator of the case, says the 2 Brits were informed that police were processing a charge of working illegally in the country against them, in which both denied the charges. Somkiet says the 2 were released on bail, but did not confirm the amount of bail that was set by the police.

“They are still staying in Thailand. I am not worried. I have their passports. I am not available to explain [any details] because the investigation is still ongoing.”

“This is normal for an investigation when the suspects deny the charge against them. I have to check more information against their claims. This case will probably be concluded next month.”

However, the investigation has yet to begin, with Somkiet saying he has not even questioned the owner of the school, despite his claims the case would be finished next month.

“The investigation into the school will take time. The investigation into the two British people must be finished first.”

Such allegations of foreign teachers working illegally have recently been in the news after Sarasas Witaed Sainoi Pitiyakarn School, in the central province of Nonthaburi, saw 7 foreign teachers probed for being hired illegally. That school, along with others in its private network, made nationwide news after CCTV caught a Thai teacher hitting, pushing and dragging a young student in the classroom. Such widespread violence against students has long been a sad component of many Thai schools, in which some of the teachers are unqualified and unlicensed to teach, but are hired anyway.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Tourism

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend

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Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | The Thaiger

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says that Phuket has received a much-needed 300 million baht boost over the 4 day long weekend with around 54,000 tourists flocking to the island from last Thursday through to yesterday.

Phuket Office Director Nanthasiri Ronnasiri, reports that the average expenditure per visitor was about 5,500 baht, which was higher than the average spend for a Thai tourist to Phuket 2 years ago. She also noted that random checks on hotels showed that occupancy rates climbed to about 35%, with most guests staying 2 nights. But most of Phuket’s hotels remain closed.

Nanthasiri also says that many of the tourists concentrated themselves in the Phuket Old Town area, especially around Thalang Road, Phang Nga Road, and Dibuk Road in order to enjoy at the Sino-Portuguese shophouse architecture and historical locations. In fact much of Phuket Town, including its many markets and alley eateries, were doing roaring business, The Thaiger can vouch for the heavy traffic, on the roads and footpaths, over the past 4 days.

“This special holiday made Phuket tourism livelier, even though it was not as same as the situation before the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In fact, despite the welcome surge of visitors, it was still a long, long way from its previous tourist levels with much of the west coast, which has largely catered for the international tourist traffic, was still very quiet in places like Patong, Kata and Karon.

Phuket wasnt the only destination that has profited off of the long weekend as Chiang Mai saw droves of Thai tourists visiting its Royal Park Rajapruek as well as the northern city’s other nearby national parks and tourist areas. Visitors came from all over to see the blossoming of flowers in a beautiful display at the park as well as enjoying the air-purifying flowers as they relaxed. Tourists were able to rent a bicycle for 60 baht if they wanted to exercise while taking in the scenery and could also pay a visit to the orchid greenhouse, which hosts a variety of orchids in bloom. TripAdvisor recommends to set aside 2 hours to visit the park.

Next holiday weekend, on November 27 and 28, Pattaya is expected to get a tourism boost as its annual fireworks festivalis set to bring in travellers who have taken advantage of package deals offered by some beachside hotels. Such packages were offered for advance bookings, where holidaymakers could view the firework shows on the rooftops of their hotels. The firework displays are said to be long with breaks of entertainment-packed shows, featuring live music and student bands amongst others.

Phuket sees 300 million baht boost over long holiday weekend | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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