29 Apr Royal spam
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The now-notorious arsenal of ‘Nigerian’ tricks has been enriched with yet a new scam.
A Peter Gamba (or Gamaba?) from Uganda is asking for help: in his homeland he faces the threat of persecution for his sexual orientation. The sender claims he is threatened with jail or even death. But he has money - $3,300,000. The message then follows the usual scenario – you take his money, put it to your bank account and get 20% of it in return for your help.
There are plenty of fraudulent messages with the content along the lines of “your email address won a million dollars in a lottery, please contact us to claim your prize”. Internet scammers use this trick to trick users into giving away money: before they can claim their alleged prize the “lucky winners” have to pay tax or a bank charge for a money transfer, etc.
We have now come across an interesting variation of this trick, which involves a Facebook account instead of an email address.
Now, why does Eduardo Saverin (a real person and one of the founders of Facebook) need to know my Facebook username if my account has already won a prize? But an unsuspecting user, blinded by the promise of a huge prize, may not think about that – and that’s what the scammers are counting on.
I’m sure the readers of this blog wouldn’t fall for something like a “Facebook prize”, but our relatives and friends have accounts too, and they may not be so experienced in the ways of online fraud. That’s why they should be warned that such letters are nothing but a scam.
The wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William is by far the most popular topic of conversation today. It’s virtually impossible to look at a newspaper or a blog without seeing some mention of the royal newlyweds. And now we are getting in on the act.
And it’s not because we here at Kaspersky Lab take a major interest in the private lives of the British royals. But spammers obviously do – take a look at the offer we received today:
Yes, fake Swiss watches and iPads are so passé – what you need is a replica of Kate Middleton’s engagement ring, originally given to Lady Diana by William’s father Prince Charles. The spammers claim you now have the chance to “own a piece of British royal history”. This royal family heirloom also comes complete with a “certificate of authenticity”.
The revolutions spreading across the Arab world have grabbed the attention of people across the globe, including cybercriminals: so-called ‘Nigerian’ spam emails have recently appeared claiming to be from a variety of “relatives” of Gaddafi and Mubarak. There’s absolutely nothing new about the messages they send: the ‘Nigerians’ don’t always introduce themselves as the solicitor of some anonymous oil tycoon or a dying widow of an innocent civil servant who was murdered; increasingly, they are legally-appointed executors or relatives of well-known people who have suffered in one way or other at the hands of political opponents.
For instance, some time ago we received an email from an Olga Patarkatsiashvili who wrote in poor English asking to help her transfer the millions of the late Badri Patarkatsiashvili (a Georgian businessman and presidential candidate who died in 2008), emphasizing that she herself has been denied access to his funds. Following the wave of protests affecting Arab countries there has been a steady stream of Egyptian- and Libyan-themed ‘Nigerian’ spam.
A certain Barrister Alexander James Williams, who claims to be a representative of Hosni Mubarak, asks for help in transferring 29 million pounds. He claims that a UK resident is required to process the transaction, but the email was sent to a Russian resident who has an account with the Russian email service mail.ru.