was a crack-brained scheme that cost taxpayers a
July of 2002, a number of folks in cities across
the country suddenly received an email over their
WebTV service. It was cute -- it offered, free
of charge, to change the colors that were displayed
on their television screens. Just click on this
attachment, it said.
in some 13 states, from New York to California,
from South Dakota to Texas, CLICKED. And sure
enough, the display settings on their television
that's not all that changed. One click...
and a software program was executed that made
each person's WebTV box dial, just like a telephone,
the telephone number 9-1-1 the very next time
that person tried to connect to the Internet through
the WebTV service.
sounds funny, but it isn't. Dialing 9-1-1
is never a joking matter. Local police dispatchers
responded immediately, pulling out all the stops
as they always do. Taxpayer money down the tubes.
Not to mention the distress of the WebTV users
who were left to contend with feeling vulnerable
and having to clean up that malicious script.
who owns WebTV, opened an investigation... and
contacted our San Francisco office. Just last
month we arrested a man in Louisiana for allegedly
sending the malicious scripts through the WebTV
servers in California. He was charged with two
counts of intentionally causing damage to computers
and causing a threat to public health and safety
in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, 1030(a)(5)(A)(i).
1. In the end, the FBI is going to get its man.
2. Don't open unknown email attachments!
And that includes the recently released "Netsky
D" worm that might show up in your mailbox
with a terse message and an attached .pif file.
If you open it, it will replicate itself, clogging
computers and email bandwidth. Caveat emptor.
Let the buyer beware.
Go to our e-scams
and warnings page to refresh your memory of
common computer and email scams. And read the
release for details on the case.