Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Advance Fee Scams with Katrina

It was a matter of time, but the Advance Fee a.k.a. (419) scams have started using the Katrina disaster. 419 is the penal code in Nigeria for the advance fee scam. This scam involves tricking someone to pay an advance fee for untold riches they will receive at a later date.

In urban legend, the scam is Nigerian based; however it is now being done all over the world. These scams have not only been traced to Nigeria and Western Africa, but also to Europe, Canada, Australia and even within the United States. Historically, it would be a letter, or e-mail sent from a foreign prince etc., who had a lot of money that he was willing to share with you for passing it through your account. Besides tricking someone into sending money, if they got enough of your account information, they would wipe out the balance.

More recently, the scam has mutated into getting someone to think they have won a lottery, or that someone wants to buy something they placed on a auction. I have even seen a variation where they are approached by a (alleged) beautiful foreign model on a dating site, who needs their help to negotiate some financial instruments. In the end, the victim is duped into sending money and is left at a loss. This can be severe if they have negotiated a lot of money for them. In these more recent mutations, the fraudsters are sending counterfeit cashiers checks (cheques) and counterfeit money orders and duping their victim into to cashing them and wiring the money back. In a lot of instances, the items are intitally cashed and discovered to be counterfeit after the money has been wired (normally overseas).

For the person, who cashes these items, at a minumum they are financially liable. There are reports that people have had criminal charges brought against them as a result of passing the instruments.

Besides getting people to send them money in advance these criminals are very adept at stealing personal and financial information. This might include invading a computer if someone opens an attachment and using software to obtain what they need to do their misdeeds. The best thing to do is avoid these people like the plague.

Right after the Tsunami disaster and London bombings, the letters surfaced and today it is being reported that Katrina is being used in yet another variation. In an article from Gregg Keizer, it was reported that a letter is being circulated from an illegal Mexican national, who has discovered hidden treasure (boxes full of currency).

It amazes me that this variation still is out there despite all the publicity it has drawn.

Of more concern will be the phishing and pharming activity, which I wrote a previous post on:

In this post, I've listed recommendations from the FBI (who is noting a lot of sites being registered for Katrina) on how to avoid becoming a victim. In case you are interested on more detailed information on this scam and variations thereof, feel free to use the search box by keyword located at the top of the page.

1 comment:

prying1 said...

It doesn't take long to jump on a passing bandwagon does it?