Open Office Scam email

I received an email from Lucrecia Llerena ( ) with the subject line – Re: OpenOffice Writer Usability Study with a single task

It claims to be from the Open Office people. It asked me to take part in a survey that would provide them with data that would help them improve Open Office.

I am a strong advocate for open source software and like many other open source users, will go out of my way to help improve open source wares, which makes me a bit more gullible when it comes to a scam based around open source ware. But would you take part in this survey?

Here’s an extract from the introduction, you judge:

Given that the deadline to present results of our investigation culminates in a short time, we request your collaboration to
participate in a usability experiment with OpenOffice Writer through the application of the Thinking Aloud and SUS Survey techniques. This time we need you just execute a task by following 8 steps in OpenOffice Writer. The average time to perform the task is 20 minutes. This experiment requires the installation of some applications (such as OpenOffice Writer and Morae Recorder) on your computer. As long as you execute the task in OpenOffice Writer, the time taken to perform and the number of clicks you made will automatically be measured by the Morae tool. To perform the installation of the Morae tool it is necessary that the computer where you are going to execute the task, has to have Windows Operating System (*) for its compatibility with the tool. It is necessary for our research that the recording contains audio and video of your facial expressions (audio is indispensable for Thinking Aloud technique and facial recording will be useful for measure your grade of satisfaction when executing the task). However, if you disagree, you can perform the recording only of your screen. “

Firstly, it has a very long wordy introduction and explanation – not the sort of thing we are used to with Open Office. The English, while grammatically correct, seems a little clumsy and the sender doesn’t appear to cite any Open Office credentials. They have addressed me by my sir name, as if it is my christian name. Maybe that’s just a mail-merge glitch. While I am a champion of open source software, I wouldn’t take this survey, even if it was genuine and helped the Open Office designers.

  1. Even though their email passed all the spam filters, it has an email address that is unknown to me and looks nothing like anything I am used to with Open Office, Libre Office or any of my Linux contacts.
  2. It asks me to download some unknown software and admits it is spying on me, through both my keyboard activity and through my webcam. They use the term “recording” but it’s the same thing as spying isn’t it?.
  3. If this is a scam, it has planted a key logger and hacked into my webcam – to put it another way – it has taken over my computer. What’s next, a ransom ware screen?

Seriously, if the sender was at all familiar with Open Source ware, they would have planned the survey differently. For the most part, open source users are more computer savvy than the general public. Many are using open source, rather than commercial software, because they already reject the various monitoring methods used by commercial software distributors to mine data for advertising, identify copyright breaches and logging user activity for updates and bug handling. Those types of people are less likely to be stupid enough to be conned into accepting spying software.

If Open Office genuinely planned this survey (and I doubt they are so stupid) Iwould be removing all their software because this demonstrates a complete ignorance of computer security – what’s that say about the security of their software?

I’d advise everyone DO NOT TAKE PART IN THIS SURVEY!

Mobile Phones and ID theft – compulsory reading

Something we all need to consider with our mobile phones . . .

A friend of mine working in the Credit Cards fraud department of a major bank related this case history to me:
A lady had her handbag stolen. In her handbag was her mobile phone with her contacts stored on it, also were her credit cards, store cards and drivers license.

This could happen to anyone at any time. Unfortunately she was the victim of a very smart thief.It was only 20 minutes later, when she called her husband, from a pay phone telling him what had happened, that the first real alarm bells rang.

Her Husband replied saying he had just received a text about 10 minutes ago, asking about their PIN number, from her, saying she couldn’t remember it, so he had texted it back to her.

Texting on an iPhone
Texting on an iPhone

They rushed down to the bank but it was too late. The bank staff told them all the money was already withdrawn. The thief had phoned the bank and asked for their daily transaction limit to be increased and had used it for a string of purchases.

Further investigations by the bank revealed that the thief-customer had purchased the goods at various stores within the same shoppinbg centre, then over the next week, returned them to other branches of the same stores stores in the suburbs, for cash refunds.

The thief had found the husbands number stored as “Hubby” and had sent a text message. They had also texted to every other person with the same sirname as the Drivers License that was in the purse. Within 30 minutes they had spent all the money in the account and  had overdrawn it.

It could have been much worse ! The thief could have texted the hubby to see what his working hours were, burgled their home and stolen enough evidence to steal their identity!

Don’t store your partner’s name in your phone directory by a pet name. With todays phones, storing emails, addresses and birthdates, can give thieves enough points of ID to request a new PIN number or even a replacement card and address change.

  • If you have to store birth dates, encrypt them by adding a month or year.  If they try to use them for faking your ID, it won’t work.
  • Add 1 to street numbers (anyone poking around will be more obvious outside your home but on the other side of the street) *
  • Add a hyphened sirname or even christian name to contacts who would be referees for ID purposes; Karen could become Karen-Joy Unfortunately you can’t do the same with phone numbers because the phone actually dials them.
  • Record your phone’s IMEI number. With this the phone can be converted to a tracking beacon by the police and quickly locate the thief.

Here’s one example of what can happen when your identity is stolen – a Perth man discovered his home was sold without his knowledge and just managed to stop the sale of his second property. It is possible that he may not get either the money or his house back!
Read the article on the ABC’s news website at