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Scale of Pump-and-Dump Stock Scam Never Seen Before

Spammers had let free a stock campaign on the Internet on August 8, 2007 in such gigantic proportions that it took the global level of spam up by 30%, according to a leading IT security firm Sophos.

On August 8, 2007, crude PDF files flooded inboxes worldwide. These documents promoted stock prices of the Prime Time Group, a small Florida-based company selling mobile phones and convenience-store products and other items.

The spam messages were of the usual pattern - the 'pump and dump' spoof where the scam creators artificially raise the stock values through false canvassing to later dump their holdings. But this time, there were some distinguishing factors. First and most important was the size of the scam. The surge of e-mails resulted in the largest amount of spam mails ever in just one day.

The enormous rise in spam was first observed in Germany at Sophos' spam-traps on August 8, 2007. But very soon, they spread to other monitoring posts all over the world, said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for UK-based Sophos. Physorg.com published Cluley's statement on August 8, 2007.

The spam messages were unleashed from home computers that were compromised and turned into zombie PCs. The campaign represented the latest trend of unsolicited e-mails using PDF-based attachments as a means to dodge spam filters. But e-mail management firm Postini said that the wave of messages amounted to an increase in spam that it had never recorded. The total volume of spam spiked to 445% in a single day reaching its peak on the morning of August 9, 2007.

Sophos Labs said that after noticing the spam surge starting on August 7, 2007, it intercepted approximately 500 Million PDF-based spams canvassing shares of a target company. According to experts, pump-and-dump stock scams comprise of 25% of total spam, an increase by 0.8% from January 2005.

There has never been this scale of pump-and-dump stock volumes and it seems to have worked very well for the criminals. Graham Cluley commented that some bogus advertisements that blasted the Internet skyrocketed the share prices of some company. Government Technology published this on August 8, 2007.

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