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Paper spam..

So I got a very official-looking bill in the mail today from "United States Trademark Registration Office" for the Linux trademark.

And it really looks quite good, enough that I ended up sending an email to LF (who handles the trademark paperwork because I'm lazy and not interested) about it.

But then I started reading the small print. And suddenly big flashing red lights start going off. And then I google it.

It's really a total scam. But I have to say, it looks good enough that I suspect it actually works a lot more commonly than most email spam does. I was totally ready to believe that it was some real trademark renewal thing.

Things like this really does make me despise some kinds of people.
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151 comments
 
I get something similar for the "Canadian Domain Name Registry" almost looks like a government document...
 
Should be easy to trace that back to the originator and have something done about it, I'd think. If anyone cares to.
 
Unbelievable. Do you think it was automatically generated? I would have thought twice before sending faux documents about Linux to +Linus Torvalds ... Care to share it?
 
I had a similar thing happen with a "collections company." Freaked me out too because it was scary close to the amount of an actual bill I had :/ Luckily I searched for the company and first thing that popped up was a scam alert.
 
Install a snail-mail spamfilter?
 
Be sure to report it. Mail fraud is still a huge industry...and still a felony.
 
I received a "paper spam" quite good too back here in Brazil. Could you post it?
 
Wow. And it seems the scams just get better and better. Good eye!
 
I get plenty of those things in the snail mail for registered domains of mine. It's amazing that they end up making enough money for the one or two that hit to make up for the overhead of all of the ones that don't.
 
We've noticed an upsurge in similar things in Australia too recently. I guess that scammers have realised that people are getting wise to the whole long-lost-nigerian-uncle-passing-away email scams of the past, and have moved to mail based ones because they are, in our minds more legitimate.

The other thing that I have noticed and I am not sure if its happening in other countries, but I have received many spam text messages. However they are the run of the mill "Congratulations - you have won the Euro lottery kind.".
 
I saw something like that but for domain names about 2-3 years ago...then I switched to Hover.com and hid my registration details...no more problem
 
There are a lot of companies all around the world who send such real-looking reminders to trade mark or patent owners. In general the total costs are much higher than a patent attorney would ask! Very often the "small print" is so small and nearly unreadable!!
So pay attention and never pay!
 
I registered a company some time ago (Poland), and soon after that I received a letter (very professional looking) asking me to pay for some entry into the official country registry of something. It looked so real that I called a government official responsible for exact this kind of entries to ask "WTF, I already paid for that during registration of the company". Turns out, it's a scam. F.. bastards.
 
I wonder if we're less skeptical of scammy paper mail due to it being less common.
 
can you work with Android Team?or you only develop for the Linux kernel?
 
Another example of this is unofficial parking tickets around Toronto. Local private security goes around giving cars parking tickets, all very official looking with official looking websites accepting payment, but in the tiny fine print it says they're a private company and not associated with the local government.
 
+Carney Wilson Probably. I'd certainly be less suspicious when someone I know well walks up to me and starts talking to me about how great his new phone is. If I got something like that in an e-mail I'd just hit the Delete button.
 
All you have to do is send $500 to register your trademark in Nigeria, and the institution over there will turn it around and mail you back $50,000 in unclaimed royalties. It will also require your full name, SSN, and banking information.
 
Dear Mr Torworlds,

I am an internet expert. I have a certificate to prove it. If you were to send me this scam paper and $250 to cover my expenses I can look into it and verify its scamitivication. We have expensive computers at our disposal here in Kolostmenistan. We can rebuild you!
 
Surely LF would have noticed, you were very nearly lucky to have chosen to let a professional do it for you. But luckily you spotted it.
 
yea my mate got one and ended up having to change he's domain as they billed him 4 times the amount, he just to busy to sort out...
 
USTRO, by name, is a scam. The official one is USPTO. The deceptive naming in and of itself should've sent red flags.
 
beats having a head hunter calling the office saying that he needs to speak to the person everyone at work knows is the office pet (a dog).
 
So for people who want to see the thing, somebody else got the same thing and scanned it in and wrote some more about it:

http://www.duetsblog.com/2012/02/articles/trademarks/does-the-trademark-office-need-a-trademark-attorney/

and I did actually report it to the US Postal Inspection Service (they have a web interface for making complaints), since it did smell like postal fraud to me. Not that I know whether they'll ever care, but hey, if these things get sent out a lot and it gets reported enough, maybe they'll go for it.
 
What's sad is i recently got a letter from a similar sounding company for a 'Domain name registration" that is automatically renewed through my hosting but I would imagine someone somewhere probably falls for it.
 
If I'm not mistaken, in US Trademark law the mark is registered for as long as you continue to use it.
 
Spam/phishing is so prevalent now that I got an e-mail from Google about a job yesterday, and I called Google corporate headquarters to make sure the lady was a real employee before calling her back, lol. It's really quite sad that you have to be so paranoid nowadays.
 
I received the same type of paper spam shortly after registering the name and logo of the comic book company I started. I thought, "That's odd, because I just finished registering this." Then I read the fine print and decided that I should report that kind of predatory behavior to the actual authorities. Hopefully, these kinds of scams will get shut down, but I'm not holding out too much hope, particularly since another will just take their place.
 
The USPS is pretty hard-up for cash right now, so I'm sure they will look into any way to confiscate funds they can.
 
yea, my bank keeps saying they lost my account number and can i email it to them!!! LOL
 
Hell, I'd like them to have to end the "Just pay extra shipping" crap. If you sell something on TV, you must tell me what I'll actually pay, what's in the package, ALL of it, and never ever should you be able to claim that anything is "FREE", because that's bullshit.
 
"Correct your company details in our yellow pages" is another trick.
 
Now that email spam is drying up, the scams have migrated. I received this phone call -- several times -- last August from "Windows Support" to tell me I had a virus, and I needed to install their software immediately:

http://www.google.com/search?q=510-943-3040

I played along for a few minutes to see where it was going. The dude is seriously aggressive: "you need to go to your computer NOW! you have a virus! I need to help you fix it!"

I finally asked him "Seriously dude, does anyone fall for this scam?" He got MORE aggressive! "If it was a scam, would I be calling you?"
 
Like others, I've seen the bogus domain registrar snail mail spam before. It's always from the same company; I forget the exact name, but it's something pseudo-official sounding like the "American Domain Name Registry Service". Last time I saw one I think they were charging something crazy like $80/year for a standard .com/.net/.org domain.
 
Wow! I get fake looking "bills" in the mail from domain registration companies trying to fool me into renewing my domain names with them instead of my actual registrar. But this takes it to a new level!
 
hi hi usually you are being your-self for being lazy for posting g+ posts and other documentation. So it seems being lazy has helped you to secure your credit card info. :-) wow thats ironic right ?
 
Any official, body should put part of code on any documents so say your registration, was BTYRF6754328HGT they could put B*********8HGT so you new it was most likely form them.
But, Governments are good at being rouge if they were right there would be less Windows and more Linux.
 
+David Pirouet What? You say they should put there Windblows license key in their e-mails? Well that's an alternative from the usual e-mails which have a file named keygen.exe attached.
 
These f*ckers get around the mail fraud by putting tiny print at the foot of the email or document to say: "This is not a bill; this is a solicitation - you are under no obligation to pay.. yadda yadda."
 
+Oisín Grehan Seriously? And nobody notices? These days I just look over de huge titles and skip straight to the foot notes...
 
Well, at least it's a good scam. It's not Dear Loved, send me money and you can have a bigger (insert explicative here) in just 4 days, while making money from you couch drinking coffee answering emails and, oh, btw you won the lottery in a country that doesn't even exist.


In a way, it's kind of a good thing. Keeps the rest of us on our toes. Let's us know that we always have to keep the sharp, watchful eye and use our brains. Nobody and no program is going to do it for us (especially by checking our paper mail. - but I'm sure somebody will come out with one of those programs now that I've said this. Scan your mail through a scanner and or the camera of your smart phone to look for these key words). But then again, most of us are computer geeks, and that's what we like to do.

So, while it is annoying and juvenile, it does make sure that our brain cells aren't completely wasted on all that pr0n. ;)

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
Cheers
 
this is nothing.
Once they call me at home (I'm from some third world country)
asking me for my Mastercard info for an American Visa
 
Common in SoCal I got one that wanted 10$ to paint the house numbers on the curve. Like "official you must " , I'm like sure I'll get right on that. :))
 
It's not unique to the US. The German Patent and Trademark Office is putting flyers warning of such scams with every single letter it sends out.
 
You are not alone, not content with sending the 419 scam by mail, we've had them in the post too. Congratulations we want to give you five million, yeah cool and the guy your sending it to wants to give you a fat lip.
 
I have clients that get bills like that but for the Brazilian Domain Registration Guys all the time. The funny thing is that the real guys only send emails!
Eddie N
 
Happy to see it's Americans doing the 419 scams instead of the Nigerians these days...and I see that they're going back to the roots of the scam (which used to involve faxes and postal mail).
 
+Linus Torvalds
Fat chance of the Postal Service helping you with that one - or finding an abuse@ contact address :-)
If you were inclined to fight fire with fire (and had time to waste) you "could" send a "Western Union" response - followed by a "oops I accidentally send you a Western Union payment for 10 times the required amount" letter.
Alternatively for an ironic response - box up all your household solid garbage and send it to the address - don't forget to forget to affix a stamp (they'll have to pay the postage to receive *your" garbage) :-D
 
Where are the images mr. Torvalds? haha! We would really like to see it :P
 
A co-worker showed me some paper spam that had a fake stamp on it. The stamp had straight, not perforated edges. Done to reduce costs I suppose.
 
Some doubts....then we have something like an "official fishing"?In Brazil or Japan too?Who are 'they'?
 
Got the very same thing for my George cartoon trademark. I saw the fine print, too. Thanks for confirming.
 
Linus, are you rich?
 
I believe Linus is rich on: friends, admirers, followers, karma.
And if I success to create the "Linus Church of [cachty words here]" well then the $ will flow :D
 
I get something similar for domain names. Trying to steal the registrations away from the actual registrar.
 
Kind of reminds me of the trademark fiasco that you mentioned in your book.
 
Was the letter from Nigeria?
 
+Linus Torvalds
Glad to hear you reported the scam, too many people let scammers go unreported.
Maybe the Postal Service will do something.
I'm rather cynical as they make a good income from snail mail spamming - "Dear Householder" bulk rates, and sell business Post Office Box addresses.
 
+Jeffrey Harlan
Pointless exercise or not. If you hadn't reported it nothing would be done - I'm told most cons succeed because they go unreported not because they go unnoticed.
Kudos for doing the right thing.
 
If I ever care to look at such things, I would first look at the disclaimer/small print. Only then would I know if it is actually worth reading completely.
 
At least you could reported. Here in Guatemala They do it by phone and the people doing it is already in jail so even if you try to do something is kind of pointless. They call you and told you are a winner in some contest but first you need to buy them phone prepaid card and give them the codes so you can collect your price at a radio or TV station.
 
mong apa sich???????? (.Y.)
Translate
 
@ Skoti: my address is only on the Internet because of my domain name registration. This fake domain name registrar literally does a who is and gets people's addresses from there. It's ridiculous and some people do fall for this scam.
 
That's why my domain name host allows users to hide those details and only a subpoena will make them disclose it.
Aaron T
 
That's technically not 'spam', that's 'paper' phishing. (Spam would be all those ads for stuff you're not interested in). Still, yikes.
 
Scammers really are the lowest of the low in society. I'm really rather surprised that one took the time to make such a personal scam though. 
 
Or maybe, they just have these kinds of things to do in their lives
 
You should get extra points for reading any of the fine print. Don't think i ever have.
 
Just be happy you caught it. There are similar scams here in Finland, and those usually target older people, who still trust anything that looks like a bill.
 
It's a simple fact that the only way that postal services are able to continue to exist is because commercial interests (spammers by any other word), keep them in business. That, and the fact that there are people who still get a charge out of finding an envelope in the box.
 
Seems that trademark owners are big target for scammers - and I agree those looks very professional!
 
Perhaps the post office will make a profit if this keeps up. I get official looking faxes about twice a week.
 
+Benno Hansen That list has already been mentioned a couple of times. But I can't see someone checking that list the moment they get a letter, can you? ;)
 
+Robin Jacobs well if I'm in doubt I very well might. But usually I recognize the envelopes on sight and store them in the waste. RIPT and IBIP, for example, are very active. ps: I comment first, read later ;-)
 
PGP signed emails from government, banks, solicitors, etc. That is what we need :-)
 
+Dmitry Belenko There are those stickers you can stick on your mail box with "No advertisements". In some countries, if you've got one of them, the postman isn't allowed to put it in your mailbox. The problem is, indeed, you don't always recognise it from the outside, and they're also not exactly advertisements.
 
I believe despise is the word I would also use to characterize scammers. Yikes!
 
Good day comrades, there are many peoples in that ** world getting that SCAM-SPAM emails, and there many peoples catching on that - loosing there money or smth else... But i cant figure out why only 2 of 5th my mail boxes gets that scam-spam...
Here is the question how to prevent it? getting that peace of **!?
p/s/ Sorry for my english its not my native. But not so far ago ive got about 1000-2000 scam mails during one-two weeks (see uper for 2 mail boxes). just for facts.
 
Suddenly figured out, the name "Linus" has been long appearing in Charles Schulz's artwork :)
 
I didn't see this posted before, but postal (snail mail) fraud is ILLEGAL. Talk to a postal inspector and see if you can get the bad guys put away for good.
 
I belive fraud in general is supposed to be illegal. It's just that criminals don't care about this much.
 
I get these for domain name registers as well. Sent all the way to Europe from the US. Total scam/phish.
 
Yeah we get these paper versions of phishing too. For of all things domain renewals, and even public stocks and shares! These smart arses know just enough of the law to stay ahead of it, and send hundreds of thousands to unwitting snr citizens, who like you don't examine it properly on first inspection and end up just signing it, and mailing a cheque! Only to later findout they have signed away their shares to some smart arse! And paid him for the privilege of transferring their shares to him.

Scamming, phishing, fraud obviously has been around long before the internet was even conceived.
 
I especially like the letters that put Final Notice in a simulated red stamp. It makes me feel as though I need to explain to my land lady that they are junk mill least she think I don't pay my bills on time.
 
We have the same phenomenon here in Switzerland (you bet!) for corporations, they get letter/fax/whatever to pay for "registration in search-index" or such crap looking like coming from any government institution. Mostly small businesses keep falling into that scam trap. Same level of business-model as mercenaries, thieves, spam-senders etc.
 
I received the exact same thing. I was ready to call my lawyer who handles my copyright and trademark, but decided to read it fully.

My email is riddled with messages about renewing my domains as well. They wouldn't do it unless some people fall for it.
 
I don't received this, looks like Russian's is not interested by them.

But, oh god, i want receive spam! I don't received any spam very long time :D, and i forgot how it looks like. No, i receive spam, but not by email. ICQ(i don't like it, but some people don't want to use jabber), internet Ads, but not good old-fashioned email spam! Spam is going to IM protocols, out from email, this is not good...
 
Never underestimate the power of Social Engineering. And this is going on for well before the Internet was born. Remember Encyclopaedias ?
 
Do you haven`t a gmail spam filter?
 
Didn't you know that the only real federal agency located in L.A. is C.T.U. (Jack Bauer). Everything else is fake.
 
I did received it. I know there is no reason for them to bill me 1500$ so I just trow it away, but I agree, lot of people must get screwed.
 
I reposted it here and on Facebook. I often warn my students that more credit card fraud is perpetrated by people you hand your credit card to in person, such as in restaurants and shops, than over the internet. People are so careful about email, phishing and malware, they forget that there are scammers in the physical world also.Computers have also made it easy to produce some high quality hard copy scams.
 
Knew of a guy in the 90s who made a living billing large companies for services he never performed. He would send a bill for $1000 or less to the proper channel, and he usually got a check. He had enough of these companies that he never did any work.

The amount was small enough that the companies usually paid thinking that someone for got to submit an invoice, or some other paperwork glitch.

That is why I always checked my bills just like Linus described long before paying them.
 
Yea i know what you mean i want to get into a home business and to learn how to do it the people always hit you with something that catches your attention and then its some kind scam... can you give me some real advice on Making Money on line.... (SOME REAL INFO)!!!!
 
At least you are despising the those kinds of people instead of despising people.
 
I can't stand people like that. They try to take advantage of under informed people...but in this case they tried to take advantage of Mr. Linux himself, tooo funny
 
for some physical spam you can use +PaperKarma they have a mobile app and you take a picture of the actual spam and they would unsubscribe you
 
or if they send you a return mail envelope, put the paper in it with a big effyou on it and fill the envelope with some pennies or fender washers to bring the weight up and send it back.
 
Really never thought spam would be so cynical to show up on my DOORSTEP.....
 
HI Linus , how are you ...dear ............i want to learn linux from you ....when you are tech me if you teach me ,its my pleasure.that is if possible .
 
Successful use android linux kernel.
 
I've seen a few of these scams and I'm a bit surprised that I haven't read about any legal action taken against these paper spammers.
To correct one misconception posted above:
Various periodic filings are required to maintain a USPTO trademark registration. Mere use of a trademark (without registration or after lapse of a registration), under some circumstances, provides for common law trademark rights, but does not, in itself, maintain a registration.
 
They pay the postal service or some middle man for the delivery of the spam mail. It's not in anybody's interest to see it stopped. The postal service earns it's keep by delivering high quantities of mail. We have a similar issue in the UK. I bet if the postal service was completely privatised with no monopoly players this would stop over night as each service vendor would have to compete on the quality of their service rather than just the quantity of unless crap they deliver.
 
sir are you a left handed or right handed .......cant googled it....so asked.....
 
I get stuff like that all the time.. drives me nuts
 
I get a dizzying number of scam mortgage refinance offers ("Your payment could be as low as $5/month!"--required payment, maybe, but I'm not even keeping up with the interest then), as well as a healthy selection of official-sounding groups who want me to convert to a biweekly mortgage payment. All of them go to great pains to appear to be either government entities or the originators of my actual mortgage. But the worst are a company out of Chicago--the name escapes me at the moment--who mines domain name registrations and sends excellent paper spam that authorizes a renewal at $30+ per year. I probably got 100 of those a year at one point.
 
Hello, I can get free Ubuntu Linux disk or any Linux operating system?
 
The scammers are just getting smarter by the day.
 
Linus: hello, I prefer to use LINUX.
 
As others have said, I get domain registration ones in official looking letters as well and have for many years. It seems a near certainty that people are regularly falling for this because it must cost them a small fortune in postage to do it year after year.

Would be great to figure out a way to stop these guys.
 
When I registered my photography trademark, the first thing that I was warned about was things like that. I get them so regularly in the mail that I just ignore them.
 
I've received similar renewal request for my domain name. I imagine many people are duped by them.
 
This doesn't work here in Thailand. People usually don't answer emails or written letters (what's that BTW?). Most of them only communicate in chat rooms and by answering the phone. So, how does spam work in chatting and texting?
john c
 
That was sent from an LPS stick. Or not. I hate small print, the older I get the less it concerns me, so it is relative.
 
Patent Trolls
They're active with public domain videos posted at sites like You Tube too.
 
..... oh man. These people piss me off to no end!
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