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BizReport : Email Marketing : February 28, 2011

More fraudsters using headline news for profit

Fear tactics are back in the land of spam. Two recent email scams, caught by Symantec's MessageLabs, are targeting consumers by using the recent headlines from Egypt and Libya. This type of scam, called a 419, isn't new, but it is also usually quite successful because of the tactics.

by Kristina Knight

It is no secret that the use of headline news type information has been on the upswing with phishers and fraudsters. The best know 419 scams have also been called Nigerian bank scams - in which a dethroned or exiled prince supposedly needs help accessing money. According to Symantec's MessageLabs these scammers are now targeting consumers based on the recent volatility in both Egypt and Libya.

MessageLabs researchers have caught two different '419' scam mailings, one targeting consumers with information from the Egyptian uprising and another from the Libyan situation. '419' scammers, also called advance free fraudsters promise consumers money but first demand fees from the consumer.

"As we've seen in the past, 419 or advance-fee fraud scammers (who typically promise large amounts of money, but demand upfront fees or payments first) are quick to react to current events. For example, in the aftermath of Haiti's devastating earthquake in January 2010, 419 scammers impersonated the Red Cross, requesting donations," writes Nick Johnston, Senior Softward Engineer with

The Egyptian scam, delivered in the German language, was said to be from 'the former Egyptian president's lawyer' and asked consumers for fees in return for part of a $2.5 million fun in a frozen Belgian bank account.

The Libyan scam had similar details, but it reaches farther into Libya's past. In this scam, fraudsters tell consumers they are connected to the Senussi Crown, a monarchy overthrown by Gaddafi's 1969 coup d'etat. It also asks for fees in return for access to a large sum of money.

Researchers have identified recent 419 scams written in French, German and Welsh

Tags: 419 scam, email fraud, email marketing, email scams, MessageLabs, spam

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  • It's kind of amusing that it's easy to spot these "scam" emails, they don't even try to be creative or believable. The ones I usually get are titled so randomly and so suspiciously, and they just put a word document, or some kind of link in their body that you instantly just delete it for sheer junk quality.



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