A Phish Called NamesDatabase

Ah, The Names Database. By now you may have gotten an email or two from them claiming to be from a friend of yours. If you went ahead and followed the link in that email, you've already been through part of the journey you will soon read about, and it could be too late for you. If not, let this save you the trouble, and help save us all from this growing beast.

Before even entering their virtual doors, observations from the outside will tell you this is not an honest site. They employ at least two tactics that I've found for falsely fishing you in from search engines.

1. Dynamic links at top of page that say "Click here if you are looking for ". This means that if you got to one of these pages from a search engine (and really, how else would you be there) the phrase you typed in to search for would be displayed on the page, as if I were already there. Trying to find that long lost buddy Fredward Smithstone? Well gosh! Click here if you are looking for Fredward Smithstone! You finally got him!

2. Pages upon pages of as many names as they could generate. Just in case their dynamic text at the top of the page doesn't click with the way your search engine works, the name you are looking for might randomly have been generated on one of these pages they threw on the web.
(example of 1 and 2: http://namesdatabase.com/names/names/K/Kemper.html )
Edit: WOW! Since the publishing of this, the format of these pages has changed dramatically! Now neither example 1 or 2 apply. Could it be that one of the commentors actually *was* affiliated with them?
Once they have you on their main site, BOY is it exciting to watch their page counter rise right before your eyes! Wonderful fradulent fun!
I had a suspicion that these counters were fake when mine continued to advance at a steady rate at a very low traffic time of day. I popped the site open on another computer and found that the site's total members were counting up as well, but were not in sync with the first computer. At each update, the counter would simply add one, and soon enough, the counters on the two computer screens veered far enough apart to make me almost certain. The final blow came when I opened the source code for the site to find the following code for a random incremental counter: (examine it yourself if you wish, opens in a new window)

Being on their front page gives me the undesirable urge to enter personal information as fast as I can. I'd better do it.

"Hey- glad you just gave us personal information! But now that you have, you need to give us five more suckers before we can let you in!"

Businesses that are in the practice of getting you to recruit people are widely frowned upon. If there is money at all involved in this, it reaches the point of illegality. Commonly known to anyone who has taken a business class as Pyramid Schemes, Matrix Schemes, or many variations on them involving recruiting for gain.

Once NamesDatabase gets past the first five people, they let you "in" to the next recruiting area of the site. Here, you are able to search through the names database and see which of your friends got suckered into this. You can then click on a friend and be told "you need to UNLOCK The Names Database" before sending the person a message. How you UNLOCK? Simple!

-Recruit a mere 24 more people, or
-Give them $12.00

to let you "send messages" to your fellow victims for a whole year. Thats only a dollar a month, Kyle! They've gotten you this far, why don't you just go ahead and comply. Its like that poker hand that you are too far into already. You've gotta go all in.

The goal of this company is either:
A) Straight monetary gain, or
B) Getting a huge database of information at their disposal, and a few bucks as the icing on the cake.

I'm going to say its B. But really, what information do they have on you? Just your name, your email address, your year of birth, the country you went to high school in, maybe your [maiden name]. And maybe a little billing information here and there.

I know I wouldn't trust a company that is involved in sketchy practices with all that information. Would you?

5 Aug 04 | +Permalink+ | Comments (46) | TrackBack (0)