Email phishing is old, but not dead

Email phishing scams are among the oldest threats we’ve been encountering and warning about. Also known as ‘419 scams’ (named after the section of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud) or ‘advance-fee scams’, they usually promise the victim a large sum of money, but they have to pay a bunch of ‘fees’ to the scammers first.
Probably the most infamous among these were the ‘Nigerian prince’ emails, claiming a royal wants to transfer millions to the victim’s account.

nigeria_o.jpg
Image by Comic Scams

One would think people would’ve gotten wiser over the years, but based on the frequency of new varieties of these emails arriving to our mailboxes, the cybercriminals must still find them worthwhile, which can only mean, they still manage to lure in fresh victims. Here are a couple of examples of the latest ones.

1. Davies Family

davies.jpg

This email refers to an actual Guardian article about a family from Wales that won £61m in EuroMillions in 2016. While the link in the email is not malicious, the scammers expect the victim to reply to the email and get drawn into the scam.

2. Military man

John

Scams with elaborate stories, that would make them appear believable, are also an all time favourite.  Those gullible enough to fall for them have been reported to lose a lot of money.

3. John F. Kelly

Kelly.jpg

Sometimes we’re even lucky enough to receive mail from ‘top officials’, informing us we’re about to get rich. Though I would expect the Dept. of Homeland Security to already know my name, home address and shoe size, rather than asking me about it in an email.

They’re still coming in by the hundreds, some more imaginative, some less, but they all want the same thing – our money. If you receive any of these, flag them as spam and delete them. Do not reply to the sender, not even with an insult, as that just confirms your email address to them as a valid one and they might prepare a custom, targeted scam for you next time.

by Urban Schrott, ESET Ireland


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