The Scammy VPN We Investigated Has Disappeared From the Internet
Thus concludes, perhaps, this bizarre saga.
Alleged Virtual Private Network (VPN) MySafeVPN is no longer online, with at least one popular Domain Name System (DNS) provider now actively labeling the domain a phishing threat. The site's apparent demise comes just four days after Motherboard revealed the site was little more than an opportunistic scam.
As of Friday, April 7, attempting to visit the site using OpenDNS, a Cisco-owned DNS service that provides additional security features, results in the above error message warning the visitor about the fraudulent nature of the site.
A call placed Friday morning to BlazingFast.io, MySafeVPN's Ukrainian web host, went unanswered.
The people behind the alleged VPN services were still in contact with the outside world as of this morning. One source forwarded me an email conversation he had early Friday with email@example.com. That's the same email address I corresponded with earlier in the week that ultimately led to a bizarre phone call in which I was repeatedly insulted. In this source's email conversation, Pav claimed to have earned "30k" off MySafeVPN and then told the source to "fuck off." He then closed the email with "Regards, your dad."
Pav didn't answer the phone when I called him this afternoon. By 3pm ET I hadn't received a response from firstname.lastname@example.org. (An email sent to email@example.com also bounced back, which was to be expected given the website was down.) The MySafeVPN Twitter account was also deleted on Friday afternoon.
The story of MySafeVPN began on Monday, April 3, after I received an email proclaiming the launch of the alleged service. The email falsely claimed that Plex, a popular streaming media startup, was working in partnership with the company. Additional emails linking back to the MySafeVPN website were sent to potential customers as well, falsely claiming affiliation with Boxee (a streaming media startup that Samsung bought in 2013 and shut down two years later), legitimate VPN service TunnelBear, and email marketing company MailChimp. (MailChimp told me yesterday that it had terminated at least one of MySafeVPN's email marketing accounts.) At one point, MySafeVPN claimed its physical address was located in Miami. That address actually belongs to a car rental business.
The timing of MySafeVPN's appearance is no coincidence. President Trump on Monday, April 3, signed a law that lets internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon sell your private data, including your web browsing history, to advertisers (though they claim they have no current plans to do so). Using a VPN, which encrypts your internet traffic, is one effective, if unwieldy, method to protect your online privacy.
It's unclear where MySafeVPN has gone and if the operators have ended their "business" for good, let alone if the unfortunate customers who paid them for a now disappeared service will ever see their money back. But at least the suspicious company appears to no longer be accepting new business.
As always, if you receive any scammy-looking VPN invitations, please send them to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @nicholasadeleon, and I'll look into them.
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