29 May, 2006

Old Dogs And New Tricks

By now, the good ol' 419 scam has been an old trick for most of us who've been clogging the Web since the early '90s. Yet even the oldest scam needs a new wrinkle here or there to remain effective.

Here's a blatant copy/paste from their latest attempt to defraud billions of U.S. dollars from people around the world. (Yes, dear fans of my parenthetical comments. That was a B there. And this figure was from as far back as 1996, so I would assume that number has gone up quite a bit since then.)
Attn/ Please

Good day to you and your lovely family. I am Mr. Yassan Ali-Fayadh, the son of Late Dhari Ali al-Fayadh (Prominent Iraq's House of Assembly Member) who was killed along with three of his bodyguards and my Bother in a suicide bomb attack in the neighborhood of Rashdiya Northern Baghdad. Please view the news website below for detail Story of how I lost my Father and My Bother.


My late Father deposited a huge amount with Company here in Dakar Senegal. I got your contact detail from a friend in the neighbor and have so much in trust in you. All I need from you is an assistance to transfer the fund my late Father deposited to your country for investment until I regain my freedom. I will give you 32% of the total sum but most of all is that I solicit your trust in this transaction and will not want you to betray me, and I also want you to know that is a legitimate transaction and which is total risk free and we both will benefit from it. Please all correspondence should be directed to my private email: [XXXXXXXXX@XXXXXXX.ca] [Address deleted. - ed.] as await your reply soon.
Note the new addition? This time, they are actually using the identities of actual people, and prominent ones at that, killed by the constant violence in Iraq. Even complete with links to the legitimate news stories about their deaths, the scum-sucking bastages.

And this isn't the only new wrinkle available in the scammer's arsenals, either. (For my more vulgar-minded readers, feel free to substitute -nals with -holes if you are so inclined.) From the FBI's Cyber Investigations alert list comes this wonderful bit. (Emphases mine, a la Jeff Goldstein.)
The scam contains the usual e-mail requesting assistance in transferring millions of dollars out of Nigeria. The sophistication begins when the recipient is directed to open a bank account at Suffolk England Bank and is provided a link to the bank's website. After clicking the link, the victim is directed to a professional-looking bank website that appears to be that of Suffolk England Bank; however, it is actually a fake replica of the true bank site. Within hours after opening the account, a balance of millions of dollars appears to have been deposited in the victim's account. When attempting to transfer or withdraw funds from the account, the victim receives a notice requiring certain "fees" to be paid. The victim is then instructed to wire transfer the fees to Africa. If the victim makes an inquiry concerning the wire transfer, they are given instructions for a Bank of China branch in London and provided some reason justifying why the Suffolk England Bank cannot handle the transfer. A review of the wiring instructions indicated the funds are actually being transferred to the Bank of China in Beijing.
To quote a fictional character, one thing must be required when something, such as an opportunity for getting rich for very little effort, both seems too good to be true and gets dropped into one's lap unexpectedly: CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

This is the same type of grifting that's been going around for years and years. (For a good primer on what to watch for, read American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Well, it's also a damn good book.) So these two examples of 419 scams are actually new wrinkles on new tricks learned by old dogs. Instead of saying you got the wrong change at a gas station, you're saying that you got the wrong change from a bank transfer. All that's changed is the position of the decimal point.

As long as there are greedy people out there, there will be those who will prey on their greed and ignorance. Don't be one of them, even if you do tend to be a bit on the greedy side. And the sooner these bastages stop scoring hits off of unsuspecting suckers, the better my spam filters will feel.

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