Microsoft subsidizes Nigerian scammers

A four-part series of blog postings at Artists against 419 discusses in detail the massive abuse of Microsoft’s OfficeLive (MSOL) webhosting service by Advance fee fraud scammers, which I mentioned in a previous blog post here. Currently I come across such MSOL domains at a rate of about two new ones per day.

As the Artists point out, one of the reasons for the large number of scam domains hosted at MSOL is that unlike other webhosting services where customers get their own domain, they are not charged any fees for registering and using a domain. Microsoft appears to be so desparate to find any business willing to host their website with them using the basic webhosting package that they fork out cash to VeriSign for the .com / .net domain registration fees. To secure against abuse, the user has to supply a gredit card when signing up, but no charge is ever made to that card. All that MSOL will do with it is get authorization from the card company to charge $1 to it (that means, the card company will verify that the card exists, has not been cancelled and that current accumulated charges since the last statement are at least $1 below its set spending limit). Those $1 authorizations will not show up on a monthly statement that the owner of a card whose data has been stolen could see. If the owner doesn’t see unauthorized charges he has no reason to cancel the card and the scammer could use the same card over and over to register hundreds of scam domains, while Microsoft pays hundreds of dollars in domain registration fees to VeriSign and scam victims lose thousands of dollars to the scammer.

The article series then discusses the problems with trying to get MSOL to take action against the criminal abuse of their system, which appears to be so broken that even a domain that has been disabled (no working website) can still be used for sending email, which is all that some 75% of scammers ever use it for anyway, according to the Artists.

Read the article series here:

7 thoughts on “Microsoft subsidizes Nigerian scammers

  1. Thanks for the mention 🙂

    The 75% figure is just a guess, to be honest, but since they ALL seem to use it for email, and FEW seem to use the website part of it (most don’t even change the default pages)… let’s call it a conservative educated guess.

  2. RE: Scammers..

    I was nearly taken for a ride recently, by these nefarious scoundrels. They’ve even started using a gay dating website i have a profile at, using the exact same format of letter/email received by that person in Ontario.

    Two email addresses used were:
    recon_slave4master@live.com
    worldcourierservice@mail2world.com

    The courier service wanted me to fork out £380 for them to deliver the “prize” of £100,000 (GBP).

    And then, as an ex-patriot South African, I have to look back at the havoc and degradation in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, after an influx of Nigerians, et al..

    I am by no means a racist person by nature, and have quite a few Black friends, I even speak Zulu, having grown up in KwaZulu-Natal. But it begs restraint when one thinks of what these fraudsters WON’T do, to make money. If the money was used to feed the millions of starving mouths IN Nigeria, it may actually be condoned to a degree. But it isn’t, unfortunately, it’s used to fund war, drugs, warlords and gun-running.

    Catch them red-handed, prosecute them, and immediately it’s a racist sad story. Go figure..

  3. I had the same message on Recon – got excited for about 2 seconds then came to my senses and realised no-one gives that sort of money to users of gay dating websites, Did a search on live.com and found this. I’ve written to Recon and will do the same to Microsoft Live.

  4. hi, im new to this.
    I received a mail from this link uknational-elot.com.
    I’m supposed to win a good amount of money but this smell like a scam big time. Can anybody can answer me about this. I feel like contacting them but
    it doesn’t make sense to me.

  5. hace poco m llego un correo donde decian que ganaba una cantidad de dinero en el link uknational-elot.com. pero la verdad creo que es pura farsa, mande un correo para reclamar mi premio pero sin los datos que decean y aun no contestan, creo que hay que tener cuidado con este tipo de correos

  6. uknational-elot.com is a fake. It’s also hosted on a server in Nigeria, which is not something you would expect from any real lottery in Europe.

  7. yo recibi un correo de ese mismo link uknational-elot.com diciendo que me habia ganado una cantidad de dinero. ellos piden dinero para que te llegue el premio, la verdad no les creo pero esta tentador el premio, si alguien sabe algo de esto por favor escribame.

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