The Daily Spam Report 4/3: This will self destruct in 10 minutes

missionWe’ve described for you in the past about how emails purportedly from Microsoft will actually come from Microsoft, not from another email. Here’s a link to Microsoft’s own guide on how to avoid phishing scams (

But the reason I’m posting this bonus viewer-submitted Spam Report (thank you Claire B.) today is because I grew up a fan of the Mission Impossible series. Yes, before there was Tom Cruise and the big-budget spectacular films, there was Peter Graves and some really old tape recorders that would “self destruct in five seconds” after he had received his “mission should (he) agree to undertake it.”

You know, he always did agree to undertake it because there wouldn’t have been a program if he hadn’t, but I digress.

Anyhow, Claire said she’s received the email below a few times before forwarding it to me on Tuesday. It tells her her email address is locked up and she needs to click on a link in order to re-activate it. Claire didn’t click on the link and thought it was suspicious, in part because of the poor grammar, so she sent it my way.

I’ve waited before showing this to you all because there’s a line in the body of the email that says the aforementioned link would “self destruct in 10 minutes after mail has been read.” Well, here we are two days later, and it has not self-destructed sadly. I was actually curious to see how that might happen. MITapeSelfDestruct

Without any evidence of it transpiring in this email, allow me to complete your day with the following link to the real thing:

That was good television.

Have a great day and remember to just hit delete.


——– Original message ——–
From: Microsoft Team <>
Date: 03/31/2014 6:18 AM (GMT-06:00)
Subject: Microsoft account place on hold.

Microsoft account
Unusual Login on account
Your Microsoft account was recently access from an unrecognized device.
As part of our Security Policy Agreement between Microsoft and You.
We have temporary place your account on hold.
Please kindly click the Re-verify button below to reactivate your Microsoft account
Re-verify Microsoft account
The above button will self destruct in 10 minutes after mail has been read.
Failure to re-verify your Microsoft account Your account will be disable permanently.
The Microsoft account team


Sharing the same podium as Arthur Koehler: 79 years later

rotary talkThis week, I had the great honor to speak before the Madison chapter of The Rotary Club. Growing up in Evanston, Illinois, home of the first ever Rotary chapter, I always knew that building as the one right across from my favorite pizza place. Through the years though, I’ve been educated specifically about the great work Rotary has done helping to eradicate polio all over the world.

I was there to discuss “The Sixteenth Rail,” the story of Arthur Koehler’s wood detection and Sherlock Holmes-like botanical detective skills that helped solve the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case. What was even more amazing is that it’s a story Koehler himself shared at the Madison Rotary Club in the summer of 1935.

Here’s a link to an article written about the talk:

Thanks to my friend, Bob Delaporte, for taking the picture that accompanies this post.

Book talk in Wisconsin Rapids on 3/6

McMillan Library

McMillan Library

I’m excited to go to Wood County, the site of Arthur Koehler’s first criminal case testimony, on Thursday night for a talk at the McMillan Library.

Koehler’s work helped convict John Magnuson of creating a bomb that killed the wife of the Wood County Commissioner in December, 1922.

We’ll discuss Koehler’s work on that case as well as the work that made him famous, the “Sherlock Holmes of (his) era,” on the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case at the library in Wisconsin Rapids.

Here’s a preview of the talk from The Wisconsin Rapids Tribune:

It’s free to come and it all starts at 7pm.

The Daily Spam Report 2/3: Captain and Tennille (or Jim Rockett)

captainIn my lifetime, there have been some famous captains I’ve known.

Captain Ahab in the world of literature. Captain and Tennille, I’m not ashamed to admit, filled my 8-Track tape player in the 1970’s. Captain Kangaroo captured my attention as a child the way Captain Hook does my children’s today.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve been more interested in Captain Kirk, Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Crunch and Captain Morgan, if not in that particular order.

So, I was intrigued over the weekend when I received an email from “capt jim Rockett,” who allegedly is working as a “a Soldier working as United Nations peace keeping troop in Afghanistan.” He told me he had made $16.1 million Euro, which is a lot of money by the way ($21,782,441 under today’s exchange rates), and that he’s contacted me for help spending it because I seem like a “sincere person.”

Thanks for the compliment Capt. Rockett, but I don’t give my personal information out to anyone I don’t know nor do I believe that a United Nations peacekeeper somehow can make that much money in their job. So then, I have to wonder how you really got the money. Did you rob someone or worse? Or are you just lying to me, trying to get me to give you some of my money.

Sorry Capt. Rockett, but I’m not playing along here. You may steer your ship wherever you choose, but I’m staying off that vessel and I’d encourage others to do the same. As an aside, the supplies on board are as slipshod as the grammar you’ve shown, it’s bound to be a disaster.



—–Original Message—–
From: capt jim rockett []
Sent: Friday, January 31, 2014 8:30 AM
Subject: capt jim Rockett

Hello, After going through your profile,i decided to contact you on a business proposal, It seems you are a sincere person.I am a Soldier working as United Nations peace keeping troop in Afghanistan, on war against terrorism. On the other hand I need your assistance, I have in my possession the sum of $16.1 million EURO Which i made here in Afghanistan and I deposited this money with a Private Diplomatic Courier Company as a consignment contains Medical/personal effect.

My sincere intention in writing you is to gain your kind permission and acceptance to assist me secure this money on my behalf in your position for establishment of investment with you in your country. For your permission and acceptance, I will give you a commission of 30% from the total amount if you have accepted to do this transaction with me honestly. If possible, may I request you send me your full data information? Only if you are comfortable with this request. This data information requested from you is purely for the purpose of sending the money to you through diplomatic means.

The information needed is: Your full name, your private phone number, your full address and your age. If I get the above information and your full acceptance, I will send the money over to your country, so that you will receive it for me before I can start coming over to your country to establish the investment with you. Let me know your mind on this and please do treat this information as TOP SECRET.

Let me hear from you as soon as ou get my mail.



capt jim Rockett

The Daily Spam Report 11/22: “Dr. Todd Becker”

Leonard-Bones-McCoy-leonard-bones-mccoy-6347668-1024-768Growing up as a child of the ’70’s, one of the television shows my father liked to discuss was Star Trek. So many catchphrases emerged from that Gene Roddenberry series, but one my friends and I co-opted came from the program’s doctor, Leonard McCoy, otherwise known as “Bones.”

When he would say, “I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer,” or “I’m a doctor, not a mechanic,” it always led to good laughs. We ended up taking the theme to school much to our teachers’ dismay.

“We’re not pack mules, we can’t carry that many books home,” we’d say. Or, “we’re not Einstein, we can’t solve that science problem.” You get the drift and the reason why some educators were happy to see me move on from their classes.

Well, today’s Spam Report reminded me of those days. I received an email from a “Dr. Todd Becker” or is it “Mr. Todd Becker?” He seems to have an identity complex as both are represented in the short note sent to me.

Suffice it to say, I’m a reporter who looks into spam email, not an investor. Further, I’d hope any doctor who I ever see would be smart enough to go to an actual financial counselor for investing advice. Finally, I’m pretty convinced Dr. Todd Becker is not a real doctor. Hopefully, his mother’s not telling all her friends that he is.

That conversation might eventually start like this: “Mom, I’m a scam artist, not a doctor.”

Have a great weekend.

If you want a link to a bunch of Bones McCoy’s quips, click here:

From: Mr.Todd Becker []
Sent: Thursday, November 21, 2013 5:11 PM
To: Adam Schrager
Subject: Dr.Todd Becker.

I need your assistance in executing an investment on fixed trust fund deposit of $15,500,000.00 into your accounts. For more  details.My private email.

My Regard,

Dr.Todd Becker

The Daily Spam Report 11/18: Deja vu all over again

Yogi-Berra-1There may be no easier way to get me to giggle than reading me Yogi Berra quotes. The Hall of Fame and former New York Yankees catcher is known for his quips that may not be artful in their use of the English language, but always seem to convey what he’s trying to say.

For example, “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Or, “Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.”

Or, the one that’s inspired this blog post, “It’s deja vu all over again.”

Last week, I posted an email solicitation from Mr. Soon, who claimed to have an inheritance he would share with me. It had all the hallmarks of a scam. The reason, I’m including it again is because it’s sent from a different address.

Same text of the email, same email you’re supposed to respond to, but the sender’s email is different and this is important. You see, many people block email addresses that they think are sending them spam, so what did the people trying to do the spamming do, they just send it from a different email.

That’s what’s so insidious about these pitches. They’re so cheap to produce (i.e. it’s free to create an email address) and all it takes is someone to go for it.  Point I was trying to make is that we can fight these scammers all the time, but sometimes their emails get through because they morph faster than we can block them.

Just hit delete.

And if you want to read more Yogi Berra quotes, go here:

Take care,


From: Cham TAO Soon []
Sent: Saturday, November 16, 2013 11:58 PM
To: Recipients
Subject: Greetings from Singapore (Proposal)

Apologies for invading your privacy like this! I am Mr. Soon; I lost one of my most influential and wealthy clients who had a secret account worth €105,000,000.00 EUR with UOB Singapore while alive. I seek your consent to partner with me to recover and share the monies. All the documents will be legally applied for and procured by me. Please send me a confidential response if you think you can be trusted I await your quick response.

The Daily Spam Report 11/4: “Need an Investment Manager”

220px-Gordon_GekkoAs a sophomore in college, staring at the inevitability of working weekends and long hours at low wages as a reporter, I thought for a second about going into business. One of my grandfathers had run a neighborhood grocery store in Chicago, the other was one of the first to sell lava lamps there.

Neither expanded or hit it big but both were able to provide for their families in an honest way. They both defined that as a success.

Well, a movie out that year defined success differently. “Wall Street” featured Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, a shark dressed in a $5,000 tailored suit that viewed the business world as protozoa to be consumed. Anyone who has seen the film remembers the famous quote, “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

However, the quote that’s always resonated with me is how both of my parents viewed money in light of their respective upbringing, that being conservatively.

“You’re walking around blind without a cane, pal,” Gekko said “A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place.”

The idea that knowledge is power is why I’ve embraced the journalism career path I’m on and the concept that whatever I’ve made should be treated gingerly, if you will, is how I’ve lived my life. It’s just following in the footsteps of my elders.

So all of that is a long precursor to introducing the email I received over the weekend from a Wolfgang Jon, whose subject line to me seemed like it was missing a question mark. He purports to be an investment manager who has access to 150 million Euro that he’s willing to share with me if I join him in a business endeavor.

The moral of today’s Spam Report is that investment managers from Europe will not be blindly sending you emails offering you 20% of a prominent dead man’s estate. Just not going to happen.

Remember this Gordon Gekko line, “A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place,” and please don’t fall for this. Oh, and running a grocery store and selling lava lamps is a lot of hard work.

Hope you had a nice weekend.


—–Original Message—–
Sent: Saturday, November 02, 2013 6:56 AM
To: Adam Schrager

How are you?I am Wolfgang Jon,Operation Manager attached to a Security&Finance Company in Germany.A well known person with the European Union Deposited the sum of 150  Million Euro with my Company for Safe Keeping but unfortunately he died just few days ago in his home town in Belgium.
I am the one who signed as his next of kin because he Deposited the Money just for few months.This Transaction is risk free because I am going to use my Authority as the Operation Manager to Divert the Money to wherever and whoever I want.
I need your assistance to take Delivery of this Money and Invest into a Profitable Business pending the time I will resign from my Company.Yours will be 20% while mine will be the rest.
Awaiting your urgent reply.You can as well reach me via

Wolfgang Jon.

I get to cheer tonight

24 years ago, I sat court-side in the Kingdome as a reporter for The Michigan Daily as my university played Seton Hall for the NCAA Championship. You’d think the most searing memory would be Glen Rice’s perfect jump shot or Rumeal Robinson’s game-winning free throw or Terry Mills celebrating while cutting down the net (great shot by our Michigan Daily staff here), but instead it’s something that happened within the first few minutes of the game.

U of Michigan center Terry Mills after the title-game victory over Seton Hall. (File photo by The Michigan Daily)

U of Michigan center Terry Mills after the title-game victory over Seton Hall. (File photo by The Michigan Daily)

That’s when the student reporter from Seton Hall was kicked off of press row for openly cheering for his school. I know it might surprise some folks, but basic sports journalism, at least the kind I was taught back in the early ’80s prohibited boosterism. I watched this likely 20-year-old kid in disbelief get forcibly removed from his seat and went back to sitting on my hands when I wasn’t taking notes.

It was at that moment that I realized I didn’t want to cover sports for my career. That kid had it right. Your school, your alma mater is in a championship game and you ought to be able to cheer.

Unencumbered now as a news reporter, I will do tonight what I could not do 24 years ago. I will openly cheer for the Wolverines… except I won’t be court-side and I’m guessing my wife will want me to be as quiet as possible so as to not wake up the kids.

Go Blue!

Praise Where It’s Due

Flip around late-night cable some day and you’re likely to come across the film, and more importantly, the story which inspired a generation of people like myself to get into journalism. “All the President’s Men,” won numerous Academy Awards for chronicling The Washington Post’s efforts to cover the Watergate scandal which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

We’ve spoken to UW-Madison Professor Emeritus Stanley Kutler about the topic multiple times as he remains the foremost expert on Nixon today. In his book, “The Wars of Watergate,” he disputes the role of the media in bringing Nixon down, writing:

“As more documentary materials are released, the media’s role in uncovering Watergate diminishes in scope and importance. Television and newspapers publicized the story and, perhaps, even encouraged more diligent investigation. But it is clear that as Watergate unfolded from 1972 to 1974, media revelations of crimes and political misdeeds repeated what was already known to properly constituted investigative authorities. In short, carefully timed leaks, not media investigations, provided the first news of Watergate.”

However, to a slew of those of us who saw something magical in that story/book/film and in learning about Thomas Jefferson, who once wrote, “our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost,” the Watergate story stands as the greatest example of journalism in modern memory.

Yet, I’m here to also tell you its by-products have not always been pleasant. You see every journalist since has entered into the profession seeking their own Watergate, whether it’s at the city, county, school board, homeowners association, state or federal level. They are sure there’s graft, there’s  corruption, there’s a misappropriation of taxpayer dollars and their careers will be defined when they find it.

What’s happened is that the industry as a whole has begun to see the proverbial cup as half empty and not half full. We seek out the negative  rather than celebrating the positive.

This is a long set-up to the purpose of today’s post which is to highlight something going very right in Wisconsin. According to data from fiscal year 2010  gathered by the Pew Center on the States, “states were $1.38 trillion short of having saved enough to pay their retirement bills” and even more importantly for us, the non-profit reported, “In 2010, only Wisconsin had fully funded its pension plan.”

Now, this information came out a few months ago and that, by definition, contradicts the root of the word news, that being “new.” But still, that fact continues to be celebrated throughout the global financial community, with insights, in theory, to be gleaned from the what we’ve done right. Wisconsin’s success is celebrated in the cover story of Institutional Investor this month with the reporter writing:

“It turns out that the Midwestern state best known for cheese and beer also has the best-designed and best-governed pension system in the U.S. The WRS’s ability to balance employer and employee gains and losses has sheltered Wisconsin from the pension problems that are running rampant in other states.”

I know it’s not the sexiest of stories and that it won’t bring down a public official like during Watergate, but for the 424,000 people who use the Wisconsin Retirement System, or one in roughly every 6 people in this state, that ought to be worth a little more than a mention. Sorry, I’d been delinquent in not pointing that out sooner in this space.


To those of you who may have followed my, at times tangential, musings over the last couple years, I thank you. This will be my final post on this blog as I’m taking a position running a newly formed Investigative unit at WISC-TV, the CBS affiliate in Madison.

The goal there will be the same as it’s been here: to make a difference where we live. I’d like to think we’ve accomplished that by traveling across the state over the last couple years to find out what’s on the mind of Wisconsin residents and in the more than a dozen Fact Check workshops we hosted at libraries around the state to teach people how to investigate the claims from those seeking their votes.

It’s been my pleasure to work for you here at Wisconsin Public Television and I will remain faithful to that cause as I go forward in the future.

Order in the Court

“If the judicial ermine and gown in Wisconsin shall drop from other shoulders hereafter as pure and unsullied as from his, we shall have no cause to feel ashamed.”

Take a trip through the Wisconsin Court System website highlighting this state’s supreme court justices and you come across quotes like the one above from Justice Samuel Crawford at the 1859 memorial service for Wisconsin’s first-ever elected Chief Justice Edward V. Whiton.

Of Justice Crawford himself, who served just two years on the high court, from 1853-55, former Mineral Point Mayor Calvert Spensley said:

“Judge Crawford was a most genial and accomplished gentleman, chivalrous in his disposition, and of the strictest honor and integrity. He had a heart full of warm sympathies and generous impulses, and as a man and citizen was greatly beloved.”

Wisconsin's Supreme Court

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court

After hearing of yet another round of tumult on Wisconsin’s current Supreme Court, it’s worth wondering how the current justices will be remembered. Their legacy, if written today by this journalist of 25 years and every other in the state, would most certainly include phraseology similar to this: (Fill-in-the-blank) served on the state’s highest court at a time when personalities clashed and accusations of violence, partisanship and dishonesty prevailed.

The latest story comes from a memo Justice Ann Walsh Bradley wrote to the state’s Judicial Commission investigating her accusation that her fellow Justice David Prosser put his hands around her neck and choked her on June 13, 2011. It’s an accusation Prosser denies. In her memo, Bradley said the event was not an isolated incident, describing an ongoing threat before that event ever allegedly happened in which she reportedly obtained extra security to protect her from her colleague and said current conditions on the court are miserable.

That accusation was refuted by Justice Patience Roggensack, who is up for re-election to the court next week. She told The Wisconsin State Journal of the current court’s mood, “nobody’s edgy or yelling or doing anything inappropriately. … On a daily basis, we’re doing fine.”

Bradley’s memo reads like a scene from Law and Order and not a real-life Supreme Court, tasked with serving as a co-equal branch of government with the Legislature and the Governor from the birth of this state in 1848. Maybe in a day where we’re used to watching antagonistic and aggressive people called judges (e.g. Judge Judy, Simon Cowell, or Howard Stern), this back-and-forth soap opera of a tale doesn’t stun people any more.

It apparently has not stunned the current justices, any of them, to change their behavior. Our message to our three kids, whenever squabbles inevitably arise, is that they need to work it out, find an equitable way to co-exist. If three kids age five and under can figure that out, albeit they  need help sometimes, can’t seven of the most intelligent Wisconsin residents? Are they not collectively and individually embarrassed about their public image?

Former Justice Janine Geske once described the high court as being “like bringing all the new in-laws together at Thanksgiving, giving them a couple glasses of wine maybe, and then discussing the most controversial issues you can think of, and see if you can get an agreement by the end of dinner.”

No one’s discounting the heady issues and stressful situations they face, but there used to be a time when Wisconsin’s supreme court justices were remembered less for their personal squabbles and more as Justice Mortimer M. Jackson was at his memorial service in 1891 by Silas Pinney:

“In all his social, personal, and official relations, Judge Jackson was eminently a polite, courtly, dignified gentleman of the old school; treating at all times his associates and acquaintances with the kindest and most respectful consideration.”

What’s the old saying, if you don’t learn from history, you’re bound to repeat it? Maybe in the case of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court that wouldn’t be a bad thing.