Gone phishing

So the phishers/scammers are at it again and this time they’re almost but not quite clever.

An email screeched in to the podcast’s gmail account, you can see a screenshot of it below or Click here for a pdf version of the full email

I have several problems with this, but by the reports in the media, a number of people are falling for this phishing scam.

My problems are simple:

  • It is not in English, it is written in something that closely approximates English, but no British clearing bank would surely send such rubbish out? And the sign-off, given that this communication is supposed to be from a bank,  is just pathetic. Why not put a few kisses on the bottom (oo-er) too?
  • It is incredibly badly typed. The use of multiple trailing full-stops, the use of the hash-sign. Has HSBC taken to employing 14-year-old schoolchildren to write their customer service letters now? Erm, no.
  • It has spelling mistakes on it. Really.
  • The server in the ‘click here’ link is based in Taipei, Taiwan – that well-known bastion of British banking.
  • So it is an email written in something that approximates but is not quite English. It is an email that is written incredibly badly. It is an email with a link to a website in Taipei.

Hmmm, is there anyone who is still feeling warm and fluffy over this email?

Here’s the double clincher; there are absolutely no names or telephone numbers on the email.

So out of a confidence score of a minimum zero and a maximum 10, my confidence level in this email being genuine is minus 12.

Why so low?

Because our little podcast doesn’t have a bank account, not with anyone, let alone HSBC.

It’s a fake. And here’s the html text of the email (just to grab some google traffic in case anyone is searching for information on it):


Message begins…

We regret having to terminate the account with us.

Please be advised of the following causes.

# Reasons:- The account would be effectively terminated due to the recent information gathered from the profile does not match the background data.

# You have refused to follow the link which were sent to the email recently.

# You logged on immediately you verified the account which caused the verification been canceled. This may be our increasing inflation problem which have forced your account to close down several of its operations.

The account will cease operation effective 16/07/2010..

Our automated security systems have indicated that access to the account will be blocked after 17/07/2010.

To cancel the termination process>>


If you have already logged on or if you need to login before verifing the account, please logout before you click the above.


It seems reasonable that the login process needs to invalidate the session and perform an automatic logout before succeeding any attempt on subsequent verification.

Please do not login after you have verified the account within 72 hours, to avoid
duplicate access records in our database as this could cause the account being suspended again.


We regret any inconvenience caused…

We appreciate your business!
Administrative Department Team

Issued for UK use only  |  ©  2002 – 2010

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8 Responses to Gone phishing

  1. cha0tic says:


    Phishers seem to enjoy using The HSBC for this sort of malarky I’ve lost count of the number of mails I’ve deleted, or have been caught in my spam folder claiming to come from them.

    Maybe one day I’ll get an account with them 🙂

    *You made me do that with your teasing header:
    “Responses to this post » (None – this is your opportunity to make your mark)”

  2. BlackLOG says:

    Sorry my bad, I must remember to us spell checker before I send out these letters…Thanks for the feed back it will make ripping people off a little easier in the future

    I’m sorry but anyone who falls for these things probably deserve to get ripped off….

    A fool and their money are soon parted and all that. It’s like the phone calls you get telling you to buy certain shares. If they are such a great buy why would a perfect stranger want to offer them to me…Oh becuase they have them and want to artifitialy increase the price so that they can make a fortune and leave me with worthless stock. Why didn’t they just say that in the first place I’ll take the lot……

  3. Allister says:

    Back when email was cool, the best spam filters used a technique called Bayesian Filtering. I have no idea how it works, but work it does. In fact, I believe many systems are still based on it. But since that time I’ve had this million dollar idea that the perfect spam filter is, in fact, a grammar filter.

    All it would have to do is know a set of grammar rules which would then need to be weighted. For example, missing words or poor choice of tense should be fairly heavily weighted.

    This would have the bonus effect of preventing me from reading bad English even from legitimate sources. It would also be useful to have a “Zaphod glasses” version which operates as a plugin to my browser, instantly blacking out any page which is too painful to read. Though I fear the news media may not support this after a while.

  4. Allister says:

    Oh, and of course, there are always those who are trying to help to add to the confusion. Disclosure: That is my web site I have linked to.

  5. Vicola says:

    I’ve had a few of these HSBC ones and like yourselves, I found one of the main giveaways to be that I don’t bank with HSBC. If there’s anyone left who falls for this crap then we need to resign ourselves to the fact that if these Far Eastern scamsters don’t get their money then some Russians selling ‘hot Russian wives’ or Mr Ngaban who just needs £5000 from them to claim his £2m inheritence which he will give them ten percent of will. A fool and their money etc…

  6. For my part, I wouldn’t mind a bit of variety when it comes to being scammed. They all seem to be based on the same business models ; HSBC emails and Nigerian bank accounts. Come on scammers! Show a bit of ingenuity to keep us interested!

  7. Masher says:

    I get loads of these too. Sometimes – if I’m in the mood – I’ll click on the link and give the information they request. False information of course, but making it look as realistic as possible, just to get their hopes up a little bit.

    I like Allister’s idea of a grammar filter!

  8. Susie says:

    Golly, I mean Brennig, you’ve got sharp eyes. I’d never have picked up those tiny little grammatical errors. 😀