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Whirl Wind Software – A case of pirated software

Lately, we have witnessed a large outbreak of pirated software spam from a company called “Whirl Wind Software”. In fact, SPAMfighter has stopped approximately four million related spam mails in the past few days. We’re not completely sure why we’re seeing the influx but believe it could be related to the pre-launch of Microsoft Windows 8. With the recent release of the Windows 8 Developer Preview, all eyes are on Microsoft as they offer a first-hand sneak peak at the features of their latest OS.  As a headlining topic with heavy coverage on many technology sites it’s an obvious topic of choice for spammers to take advantage of in order to ultimately sell pirated software. As you will read later, spam mail is not the only baiting method being used.

We previously covered the Google Earth Scam and in this post we will attempt to unveil how scammers are tricking people into paying for illegal software. Hold your breath, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s get started.

First and foremost, the most common baiting method employed by scammers is by email which typically promotes heavy discounts on commonly used business and professional software. It’s certainly a tempting offer to get 80% off software titles or bundles that have a retail price upwards of $300-400.  Here’s an example of the content contained in one particular “Whirl Wind Software” email:

whirl wind software - email scam

 Another method is spamming legitimate websites with ads or even the creation of splogs, blogs with fake content that are created for the purpose of spamming search engines. We have also noticed a lot of entries in yahoo answers, which is a common way of spreading malicious messages.  Here is an example of a Google search results page so you know what the ads might look like if you happen to stumble on it. 

Although the aforementioned site has disappeared we have found other incarnations of it that are up and running at the time of this writing but may have already moved locations as you read this.  We wont list them here but they aren’t exactly difficult to find. Enter at your own risk though.

At first sight the Whirl Wind Software shop looks professional with a clear and functional navigation, a long list of software, and great offers. However, diving a little deeper uncovers signs of illegitimacy.  Browsing to a “Whirl Wind Software” payment page shows that it is not encrypted! 

Whirl Wind Software

  Credit card information should never be entered on sites that are not encrypted and we hope you’re already familiar with that bit of advice.  In a sly move, “Whirl Wind Software” claims that they are recognized as an encrypted site by badging their page with familiar security logos.  Notice how the date in the GeoTrust logo is not current!

What happens if you decide to go through with a purchase? Will you get your favorite software at a very reasonoble price? We’re not sure what you’ll get but there is no doubt what you’re getting is not legitimate software. We haven’t tried making a purchase ourselves since most of us here are rather fond of our money and do not condone software piracy.We briefly checked their support pages and found a document with serial numbers and non-standard instructions for activating software. If this document is an indicator of the type of goods “Whirl Wind Software” is selling, they are assuredly cracked and / or illegally modified software packages. Read our previous coverage on the risks of using software cracks for more information.

It’s also worth noting that their “Contact Us” page is devoid of a direct method of contact via email or phone.  While a publicly displayed email address or phone number should not be considered as suitable alternative for the lack of site encryption, it can serve as an indication that the site or service is not a fly-by-night operation.  

 So what have we learned here?  For one thing, be cautious with promotional emails if you do not recall signing up to receive them.  With the increasing popularity of online sales, there simply is no excuse for a legitimate service or vendor to not offer encryption on their purchase pages.  Always make sure that the shopping cart contains an encrypted and connection, and when in doubt, it may be worth your while to make the purchase at your local retail store even if it’s not as convenient.  Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Have you been the victim of making a purchase from what you thought to be a legitimate online store?  Is there a site that you’re unsure of  and would like us to take a look at?  Share your story or let us know in the comments!

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Whirl Wind Software - A case of pirated software, 4.5 out of 5 based on 24 ratings

About Kim Falkner

VP Marketing for SPAMfighter with a passion for IT-security and blogging. Follow me on Google+ (+Kim Falkner) or LinkedIn (Kim Falkner on LinkedIn)
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35 Comments

  1. Kim says:

    I am receiving these emails on my business email account and I can’t seem to get them to stop emailing me spam, how do I get them to stop emailing me. I never bought nothing from them and I won’t ever buy nothing from them. Please tell me how to get these idiots to stop slamming my account.

  2. Bill R says:

    The Whirl Wind software spammer is more than just pirate software. He may be one of the top three spammers in the world. In addition to defrauding the public via malware downloads purporting to be cheap software, he is also the guy spamming a diploma scam where he sends you a a degree from a non-accredited university that does not exist; he also operates a number of faux pharmacies under many different names (too many to name here) that mostly sell sugar pills not erectile dysfunction medication; he spams for fake dating sites with names and numbers in the URL (sonya201010, Maria0311 etc.). He also of course steals email identities and hacks into servers, especially Korean and Indian ones

    The point is to steal credit cards and download malware the turns PCs into slaves and acts as a distributed hosting method, which makes it harder to be caught

  3. Falkner says:

    @kim: A spam filter should help you. Which e-mail client or service are you using?

    @Bill: Thank you for your comments. He is indeed one of the bad guys around…

  4. Noel Unwin says:

    Our company’s inbox has been getting bombarded daily with spam emails from this company for about 1 month, a company website purporting to ‘legitimately resell zipped copies of OEM’ – the solution is simply to tighten up / encrypt your enquiry web portal (sorry to sound obvious). On another note, it is a shame that companies like Whirl Wind Software cast a black cloud over the legitimate side of the secondary software licensing industry. I would like to know what the software manufacturers are doing to stamp out these cowboys from the market as they are the ones losing out the most (although I guess these cowboys will simply move onto another market).

  5. Rahi says:

    I am the victim of this Whirl – Wind Software, i was searching a best price for MS Office 2010 Professional plus for my new laptop, I got this site and honestly i purhcase the software by providing the Credit CArd, after downloading the software I realized that it is pirated software, I did two thing first i blocked my credit card to be used again by these guys and second claim for refund.
    Let See how it turn into

  6. Nick says:

    Hehe, maybe we should use the contents of their spam emails to stop the spam emails from coming?

    But seriously, these type of scams are getting so smart and believable, that it is very very hard to decipher the real from the malicious.

  7. RT says:

    These spammers are smart. :) I also got their email, but I always avoid offers which look too good to be true.

  8. Linda says:

    Yeah! I also receive those spam e-mails! Annoys me every time I do. :|

  9. Lindos says:

    Awesome post! i’ll be sure to recommend it to my friends

  10. Susan says:

    They now have a very legitimate looking website up: OEM Store at oem-store.biz. I unfortuately bought software from them not realizing it was pirated until my computer tech went through the download process. I did get the software so my credit card company says that I can’t get my money back. I don’t want to use illegal software, but what can I do?

  11. AMY says:

    I NEED HELP. I JUST PURCHASED SOFTWARE FROM THEM AND WHEN I GO TO LIST THEIR LICENSE NUMBER IT SAYS THAT THE LICENSE # IS INCORRECT. WHAT CAN I DO??? IT WON’T ACTIVATE….HELP PLEASE!!

  12. R. Bhaarath says:

    I too am a victim of this Whirl – Wind Software, i was searching a best price for Adobe Photoshop and other such related software. I got this site and I purchased the software by providing my Credit Card details. Only after the software was downloaded did I realize that it is a totally pirated software. I have now claimed for credit card refund. I cannot use the pirated software as well. I hope its just my time that was wasted.
    I am going to spread the information around as much as possible so that there is greater awareness.

  13. Sandy Langheld says:

    Hi, I was scammed by Whirlwind software over the weekend. I paid for Rosetta stone -Chinese and all I got was a trial version.

    How can I report there site and what they r doing. I am going to the bank today to change my card

  14. Edward says:

    I would like to thank SPAMfighter for saving me what could have been a major loss. Whirl Wind Software send me an email with the following link where to purchase a whole host of software:embuy-digitalbest.com/ua. When I checked the link, it took me to their site showing the software. I didn’t have time so I bookmarked the link and also emailed the link to my personal email address. Later when I clicked on the bookmarked link, it took me to the university of Alabama!(see UA after the end of their supposed website address above) When I went to my other email address and clicked on the address link of , I got an advice message from SPAMfighter that they have flagged the site,then I knew I was dealing with a scam and I was lucky.

  15. Steve says:

    I just purchased the Adobe Master Creative Suite from them. after receiving a trial version and a script to crack the software i saw that the company was from Whirl Wind Software DO NOT USE www. softlatest .com. I have now received two transactions of $300 from Lobster gram which I never knew existed until i saw it on my transaction history….

  16. PJ says:

    I can’t believe there isn’t some way of stopping him legally? The credit card companies must know who/where there giving the money to???

  17. Bull says:

    I had the same experience last night everything looks legit until after you pay. Then in there instructions they tell you not to register the software. This is crazy. I was able to contact my credit card company and it appears they have blocked the transaction. Not going to use this software.

  18. SD says:

    I’ve bought some Whirl Wind software last night and it doesn’t install properly. But worse is that today my credit card has been used in several different places – my bank called me tonight to verify various transactions abroad, which I knew nothing about and now the card has been stopped – with with the loss of at least £100. Beware of this scam and do not out your details or your money.

  19. Eric says:

    I was nearly taken also with Whirl Wind software, Just seconds from fully entering my credit card, but looked up to see that the sight was not secure, no s at the end of http. When certainly was odd, they have a pretty slick looking sight, I got sucked in. Prices we to good to be true. Thought to investigate and your website, confirmed it all. To good to be true.

  20. Patti Sharpless says:

    I just ordered the Adobe CS4 Illustrator last night (because it is outdated and you cannot get it anywhere and my daughter needs it for school) and when I tried to open it my virus protector kept telling me it was a Trojan Horse virus and when I tried to download the Winzip that they tell you that is needed – again my security system would not allow it to download. I ran it past my IT dept in work and was given your info on this site – first thing this morning I put a stop payment on my check card and cancelled the card at the bank. I am hoping I caught it in time.

  21. Bgmaster says:

    Hi, my choice is simple:
    – If i dont have enough money, download cracked version from edonkey,file hosting, etc… . It can have virus, but at least dont give your credit card number to scammers.
    – If i have enough money, buy software from official shop or amazon. If its is possible search a discount code in web.

    Good blog.

  22. PA says:

    Recently puchased Nero 11 Platinum and discovered right away that the download link wouldn’t work. The vendor initially responded with another workable link but the software was obviously pirated.

    Fortunately I advised the bank as soon as I realised and to look out for any suspicious credit card charges. Sure enough it only took a day before this happened with one charge originating in Spain and another test purchase through Google.

    Thanks to reports from others on this site, we were able to catch this quickly.

    The Bank’s anti-fraud dept. are going to follow up and hopefully put these thieves out of business.

  23. Barry Chan says:

    Thank you, Mr.Falkner. Without you article, I would not have figured out how my credit card got unauthorized charged three times in the last week. I have purchased a software from www oemfull com about a week ago. The whole purchase transaction and the software installation procedure was a little fishy. Then my credit card statement showed the payment had been made to CARPARK MALAGA MALAGA ES! The invoice I received from “Whirl Wind” says “Do not charge back!!”, which made this sound even stranger.
    In the past week, my card had been charged by Google for $1 dollar, followed by three unknown transactions by iTunes totaling over US$100. I had to stop my card, and thanks to your article, I will delete my pirated software and wipe my computer clean. I am going to tell the bank about the original purchase and see if they could charge them back!!

  24. Barry says:

    I wish to point out that this website has posted its advertisement on youtube as “featured videos”, for several of its pirated softwares. The creator of these videos is named “Mr. Sergefer”.
    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=acrobat+x+pro&oq=acrobat+x+pro&aq=f&aqi=g10&aql=&gs_sm=3&gs_upl=116853l123871l0l124376l13l13l0l4l4l0l221l968l5.3.1l9l0

    Apparently “Mr. Sergefer” has subscribed to a couple of favorite videos which led me to believe he is Russian.

    I hope this little bit of info helps the authorities hunt down the culprits and lock them behind bars for good.

  25. Penny says:

    Thanks for posting this. I purchased what looked like legit software until I downloaded the instructions and it said to “install it as a trial” then I immediately stopped and knew it was bad.
    I called my bank and they said they get 50 calls a day for people accidentally purchasing items like this. Luckily my credit card company hadn’t had any charges. I put a block on the card…but I think I will go ahead and cancel it :0( My bad. I won’t use the software. Lost a day of downloading and an hour freaking out!!!! Sad that this can be OUT THERE and truly look legitimate!
    Whirl Wind Software BAD!!!!!

  26. mark pigott says:

    It’s still going even now!
    And it still has the outdate February 2011 “verisign”
    Calomel SSL Validation doesn’t even exist.

  27. A Fool says:

    I purchased software from them in February. I thought they were legit and downloaded Adobe Indesign CS4. The software worked great. I saw in their confirmation e-mail this strange policy about never doing a “chargeback” with a credit card company regarding their services, but seeing as I had paid in full I saw no problem with it. A few weeks later I saw a charge that I did not recognize and disputed it with my bank. And now just today I received an e-mail from Whirlwind saying that they have been notified of my “chargeback” and that if I do not “rectify” the situation with my bank that they will report me as a delinquent account and ruin my credit for “seven (7) years.” I feel pretty confident that they will get nowhere seeing as I did pay in full for the software and “chargeback” was for the second unauthorized charge. I have filed a complaint with my local attorney general and will be calling my bank tomorrow to inform them of the situation. Lesson learned…if it’s too good to be true it probably is. Has anyone else been the subject of these type of bullying?

  28. VS says:

    I purchased capture one 6 pro in Jan. The same thing has happened to me as A FOOL has reported. stupid me.

  29. VS says:

    Yes this has happened to me. Purchased capture one 6 pro in Jan and later notice a charge that I did not recognize sa I contacted my bank and cancelled the payment. Now I have only just received the same e-mail as A Fool did.

  30. Katie says:

    Thanks for all these postings. I was trying to purchase Adobe Illustrator and thought it was a student discount company. The site looked legit and once I paid I could not get it to download (thank goodness, it sounds like) and the whole thing kept getting weirder. There are no phone numbers or emails. The troubleshooting takes you all over the place and none of them work. Once you submit your problem/query, you can’t even view the status without a username and password…however, there is no place to log in and no information provided to you. I cancelled my credit card after reading everyone’s additional charges. I spoke to my bank and they advised me that it would be highly unlikely that they could impact your credit score without your social security number; however, I will be keeping an eye on that. I have never been victim to a scam online….if it is too good to be true…it is.

  31. Whirl Wind is a Renowned Legitament Company They have been around longer than Most other companies. whirlwindsoftware.com THIS IS NOT SPAM, I am a Computer Repair tech and Software License Holder of over 30 Licensed Programs on My Business Computer!

  32. Falkner says:

    Hi Joshua,

    Your are right regarding that company but notice how the bad guys spell their name different Whirl Wind Software without spaces.

  33. Almost Fooled says:

    It was the humorously awful grammar and spelling throughout their site that caught my eye and led me to this research. Thank you all for the other things to be wary of in general; unsecure site, and the lack of any real contact information.

  34. Suspicions Aroused says:

    I stumbled upon Whirl Wind Software a.k.a. softlatest.com via a Google search for Adobe Illustrator student/teacher software. The price was low ($79.95), but it seemed vaguely plausible given it is academic software. I pressed forward with the purchase fully expecting to have to enter proof that I am associated with a school, but never was. Their support URL was the first giveaway of potential illegitemacy: storedigitaloem-2.ru/ The real tip-off was in the installation instructions. They wanted me to add dozens of Adobe server names to my /etc/hosts file with bogus IP addresses: 127.0.0.1 (localhost). I’ve asked for a refund. Let’s hope (a) they give it to me, and (b) they haven’t passed my credit card number to the Ru**ian mob. FWIW, they have started encrypting their billing and payment process: protected-software.com/join…

  35. Suspicions Aroused says:

    A follow-up note: I got a call from my credit card company this morning. Their fraud department caught “Grab Software” (which doesn’t exist on the net) trying to charge my card four times for the same amount ($86.45 including the $6.50 “service charge”). I had to report my card as “stolen” so I could get a new card number, since I foolishly gave the crooks my CVV number too.

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