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Bad news for Nigerian prince email scammers

Posted by Geraldine Hunt on Mon, Aug 8th, 2016

One of the top 'Nigerian prince' email scammers has been arrested.  Known as "Mike," the Nigerian man presided over a multinational network behind email scams worth more than $60 million. The scams used malware, fake email accounts and other tricks to lure people into giving their information. Interpol says one scam netted them $1.5 million.

These scams are often known as 'Nigerian 419' scams because the first wave of them came from Nigeria. The '419' part of the name comes from the section of Nigeria’s Criminal Code which outlaws the practice. Nigeria isn't the only country where these scams originate, these scams now come from anywhere in the world.

Trending topics are gold dust for spammers. These events generate enormous levels of online interest worldwide. Internationally popular events like the Olympics  provide scammers with plenty of potential new victims. By piggybacking news headlines spammers can increase traffic volume to their websites. To date it is estimated that over $80 billion has been lost to 419 scams alone explaining why these scam emails continue to exist and grow in frequency and ferocity.

What makes a scam email obvious?

  • You’re promised a large cash reward from your assistance (use of a bank account is a common request).
  • Terrible use of English – grammar and spelling
  • It is related to a current event that is grabbing headline

All of these taken together make for a  typical scam email, they always seem to follow the same pattern, spammers are nothing if not predictable.

Variations of the 419 scam

  • The classic: Someone contacts you asking for help to get a large amount of money out of the country, in exchange for a generous commission. Catch – they need your bank details or small cash donation to help get the money to you.
  • Lottery: You’re informed you’ve  won the lottery… even if you didn’t buy a ticket. Catch - to get the prize they require some cash up front.
  • Inheritance. You’ve inherited a sum of money from someone you didn’t even know. Catch - you must first hand over a small deposit to get your inheritance.

There are many more variations of the 419 scam but these are the most common. Incredible though it may seem, people still fall for these scams.  These scams are continually repeated as they are reaping rewards for the cybercriminals.  Remember you should never send money to someone who contacts you via email and neither should you reveal personal or financial information via email or over the phone.

Read about some recent email scams you should watch out for:

Scam Alert :  Fraudulent motor tax phishing scam doing the rounds.

CEO Phishing Scam Emails Costing Businesses Millions! 

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