Sophos is reminding computer users of the danger of e-mail and internet scams following the arrest of six men who were able to steal $1.76 million from an Australian man via e-mail.
Reports say that the Dutch police have arrested the six men after extorting money from a 49-year-old Australian man who was ‘offered’ a business contract amounting to US $90 million. Some of the men who were arrested came from Nigeria, home of many similar scams in the past.
The 419 scam, named after the relevant section of the Nigerian penal code where many of the scams originated, encompasses unsolicited e-mails where the author offers a huge amount of money. Once a victim has been drawn in, requests are made from the fraudster for private information that may lead to stolen identities and financial theft.
Senior Technology Consultant for Sophos, Graham Cluley said, “Police in The Netherlands have been particularly active in tracking down the perpetrators of 419 scams, and there have been a number of arrests in the last year or so. What may stagger the average man in the street is just how much money can be made by the criminal gangs behind these international con-tricks. The sad fact is that there are people who fall too easily for these scams, and many would probably never report their mistake to the authorities.”
Other examples of 419 email scams include a message claiming to come from a persecuted widow of the late Nigerian head of state, an associate of the massacred Nepalese royal family, and even an African astronaut stranded on the Mir spacestation.
Earlier this year Sophos reported how a former treasurer of Alcona County, Michigan, had been arrested after allegedly investing more than $1.2 million of county funds in Nigerian fraud scams.
Sophos recommends companies protect their desktops, servers and gateways with a consolidated solution to thwart the threats of viruses, spyware, phishing, hackers and spam.