Late on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 03, 2003, an Internet criminal tried to send a message to an automated mailing list that, had it been successful, would have circulated a fraudulent e-mail in our name to the over 15,000 readers of balidiscovery.com's award-winning weekly newsletter Bali Update. That fraudulent message permitted the hoax e-mails to be sent over the name of the Update's Editor, making a strange call to arms to the people of Bali to join a crusade to close illegal villa operations, move against businesses that don't pay the mandated service charge to their staff, take actions against companies keeping a double set of books to evade taxes, and to oust illegal foreign workers living on the island.
That somewhat disjointed call to action closed with a peculiar warning that while the reader may think us "crazy" for making such a proposal the "proof exists" that the mail was sent from our office in the event "we" should later want to disavow its contents. Excuse us, but isn't something starting to smell extremely suspicious here? Read on.
Strange Source, Strange Message
The crudeness of this attack and the tortured mental state of its perpetrator become evident upon closer examination. Consider the following:
The same message of "public interest," attributed to this website's Editor, bounced on late Tuesday afternoon with our U.S. Internet Provider for lack of a password when its mysterious sender tried to post it to the "Bali Update" subscribers' list. Trust us on this point: we haven't forgotten our password, the message was a hoax authored by a third party.
Just moments after being frustrated in his efforts to hack the Bali Update subscribers' list, the cyber-criminal met with moderately more success using an Internet technique called "spoofing" that allowed him to send massive numbers of e-mail to his personal mailing list over our U.S.-based mail server, making the e-mail appear as though they were sent by our Editor.
Almost simultaneous with this rush of fraudulent e-mails crusading for a clean up of the local tourism industry, the same message appeared on a Bali travel forum owned by an Englishman living in Phuket, Thailand. That posting, which carried the hoax message in its entirety, also suggested that our Editor was somehow "losing it" by launching such a public crusade. Worthy of note here is the fact that the hoax message attributed to our Editor was posted to the Forum not by our editor (which he could have done) but by the Forum's owner/administrator and his instantaneous defense of the message's authenticity before ever being challenged on that point. Hmm, go figure.
Moreover, the unedited appearance of the erring e-mail on that forum suggests that any feigned disgust the Forum owner felt for the contents of that message was outweighed by his obviously greater desire to try to hold our Editor up to ridicule. Alternatively, we might conclude the sentiments expressed reflected those of the forum's owner who felt compelled to spread its message?
Another peculiarity worth noting is that the contents of the hoax e-mail has not appeared on the balidiscovery.com website the most accessible platform for travel-related message or opinion we wish to share. The bottom line: we didn't write it.
We leave it to those who received the fraudulent e-mail or have read it on the subject travel forum, to decide if the writing resembles that of our Editor or the scribblings of a sophomoric prankster in desperate need of a thesaurus.
No less curious is the fact that less than 24 hours before the hoax e-mail campaign was launched, our Editor appeared in an one-hour free-ranging TV dialogue on tourism broadcast on Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI). Incongruously, during that entire interview he failed to raise even one of the themes presented in the hoax e-mail, despite having a potentially sympathetic audience at his disposal to do so. Again, go figure.
balidiscovery.com and its weekly Bali Update, have received numerous awards and been cited by Time Magazine as "Bali's Truth Ministry." Accordingly, our approach on issues related to Bali tourism has always been straightforward with editorials renowned for refusing to pull any punches. That the contents of the subject e-mail can't be found on this website is due to the simple facts that we didn't compose the message.
We Regret Any Inconvenience.
We wpologize for any inconvenience caused in our name by this Internet "spoofer." While we endeavour to track down the identity of the criminal prankster who sent the fraudulent e-mails, we suggest that anyone who receives a suspicious e-mail that appears to emanate from our server, please feel free to push the reply icon and ask us to authenticate the message. Our team will always quickly reply.
While the unidentified culprit may be able to continue to fraudulently send e-mails over our name, he cannot, as far as we can tell, access or interfere with the messages sent by you to us.
Discovery Tours. Articles may be quoted and reproduced
if attributed to http://www.balidiscovery.com.