Getting phished sucks. Getting phished really sucks when you've spent significant amounts of time analyzing phishing attacks only to end up falling prey to one anyway. It happens, this is my story...
If you're not familiar with who Shane Missler is, he's a 20 year old who recently won a Mega Millions jackpot. A HUGE jackpot, one of the largest they've ever had. Also being in Florida with Shane, he dominated our local news coverage for a short period of time. One thing that kept reoccurring was that he kept saying he wanted to help people and do good with his money. Cool, that's a nice thing to do and I wish him the best of luck and then I moved on to real news.
A few days later though, I saw a Tweet pop-up on my feed from an account claiming to be Shane, created in April of 2016, stating that he wanted to give back to everyone and offered USD $5,000 to the first 50,000 people who retweeted his message. Remembering his repeated messaging of wanting to do good I said "sure, what's the harm in retweeting?" and did so. I figured, if it's a fake account than I'll just unfollow and that'll be the end of it.
Fast forward another couple of days and I see a new Tweet pop-up on my feed, again from Shane. This time he says he's hired a company to put together a website to process the payments for the 50,000 people who met the requirement. I thought, "no way..." and went to the Twitter account. It looked like I remember it looking like when I saw it in the media and I started browsing his tweets.
They were thoughtful and offering positive messages with seemingly a lot of engagements. Huh, "I'll be damned!" I thought, this guy is actually doing it.
Now, in hindsight, besides all of the obvious red flags I even acknowledged and willfully ignored as this phish built-up, the basic math of it all should have been a no-brainer. At USD $5,000, across 50,000 people, you have USD $250M dollars which, again in hindsight, was far more than I knew Shane had since he took the cash payout which was significantly less than what he won.
Naturally, I opted for PayPal. Now, the information asked for felt off, but as I do a lot of PayPal and they weren't asking for things that weren't already in public domain or easily Googleable, I let the little devil on my left shoulder shut the little angel on the right out - "this is totally going to be legit" as I filled in my name, address, and e-mail with thoughts dancing through my head about getting my entire family to sign-up ASAP!
At this point, it does some "checks" to "verify" your eligibility and, again, I thought "this dude is crazy but hey I'm all about that free money!".
The deeper I went into this rabbit hole, the more I self-convinced myself to ignore all of the glaringly obvious red flags.
Next up, it says it needs to verify you're a human on the totally legit site "areyouahuman[.]co". Sounds reasonable, we definitely don't want to give money away to a bot so let's see what we have to do...
Now, mind you, I was doing this all on my phone while also preoccupied with something else so when the "verify you're a human" page came up and said I needed to install 4 Apps on my phone and let them run for 30 seconds, it made me stop what I was doing and take pause. What the hell kind of verification is this? How does that even work? Is this malware? What are these apps? Are they trying to generate money to cover some of the costs of sending out USD $5,000 to every person? This last question was, if you haven't already figured it out, somewhat true. The apps were all legitimate, Google validated, and very popular games on the Google Play store. Regardless, I trudged on due to greed, played a game of Solitaire, and pondered why I was letting myself be fooled by such an obvious fraud.
I decided to skip ahead, dread beginning to rise, to the Amazon voucher. It was a Amazon survey for $1,000 which was the final straw, as there is no way it's tied to human verification. I decided to go back to Twitter and confirm my fears; almost every subtweet to the original was along the lines of "THIS IS FAKE!!!". Red faced, annoyed, had, I decided to figure out just exactly what I got myself into it.
First up, I confirmed it didn't matter what options I picked, what bullshit I filled in, I would "verify" and get sent over to the "areyouahuman[.]co" site. On the PC, the entries were of course different so they are doing some device/source detection and redirecting based on that. I don't think this site is necessarily related to the other, but you can clearly see the affiliate ID at the top.
Going through the source code on the page, it luckily appears to just be a scheme to generate revenue and using the affiliate ID for tracking. The person behind the ID would get cash for each successful app install, links clicked, and surveys taken thus making me a pawn in their game. The links all followed a similar pattern of using this site "jump[.]ogtrk[.]net" preceeded by the affiliate ID and whatever the AD is, as shown below:
The next logical question then was, "who the hell is the man behind the curtain?".
A quick WHOIS didn't provide any useful information. The domain was created fairly recently, which would make sense, but otherwise it had the usual GoDaddy abuse information; however, there was a Registrant Name which would be useful.
Sean Courtney isn't a lot to go on. Looking in PassiveTotal there are 106 recorded Registrants that share this name. A lot of them seem unrelated so name alone might not be strong enough to go off. Looking at the resolutions for the domain show two IP addresses, both registered to GoDaddy. This implies that on the date it was registered they changed the IP address, which is always an interesting piece of data to pivot on.
Cross-correlating the two IP addresses with every other domain that shares the Registrant "Sean Courtney" showed a number of domains that overlapped.
Now, these are shared GoDaddy IP addresses, so each IP has a significant amount of domains attached to them (500 and 1K, respectively) but it's building a stronger relationship. Additionally, the other domains also have another overlap which makes things more interesting. Specifically, they share an e-mail address used during registration.
Obviously, the one that immediately stands out in the domains is "seancourtney[.]org". Looking at this sites WHOIS information reveals a bit more. Relevant bits follow:
Before diving in further on that, I want to take a second to talk about the e-mail address. If you Google it, you receive back a handful of other domains they've registered in the past all related to video game cheating. Similarly, using PassiveTotal to look at the historical domain registrations from this e-mail, a picture begins to emerge around content and theme.
Based on these and the few Google hits, it seems this individual tries to profit off "hacks" for very popular games, such as PokémonGo, Clash of Clans, and OverWatch. I also suspect that not one of these serve actual hacks or cheats but simply are used as a lure for desperate people. Again, if you play off peoples desire to win (or get free money) then you can more easily entice them into clicking your affiliate links and thus make money.
I have an e-mail, a name, and an address so lets see what else is available online.
Of course, almost immediately, I stumble onto the individuals LinkedIn page.
Sean Courtney, Advertiser, located in Muncie, Indiana.
He's also worked other Advertiser jobs in the past, but his most recent experience as an "Affiliate Advertiser" seems to line up perfectly with what we've uncovered so far. You'll also note the name of his currently employer, "OGAds". My gosh, that sounds awfully familiar...
You'll recall that when I looked at the source code of the page the surveys and apps were being funneled through, the domain was "ogtrk[.]net" - I wonder what the chances are those two are related?
Well, pretty fucking likely apparently.
The final icing on the cake is an all too now familiar app-install offer that OGAds displays proudly on their site.
That about wraps things up here. I'm sure they made a good chunk of change off everyone and it was a good lure (for me) so hats off to Sean and, most likely, OGAds. You're all a bunch of twats.