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New twist on Nigerian spam - John C. Kirk

Jun. 6th, 2009

09:26 pm - New twist on Nigerian spam

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Since my email address is public, I get a lot of spam messages (at least 150 per day). This includes Nigerian 419 emails, where people offer to transfer millions of pounds into my bank account. However, yesterday I received a new version. (It's obviously still a scam, but I think this approach is interesting.)

Here's the email:

I am Miss Jane James.. a computer scientist with central bank of Nigeria.

I am 26 years old, just started work with C.B.N. I came across your file which was marked X and your released disk painted RED, I took time to study it and found out that you have paid VIRTUALLY all fees and certificate but the fund has not been release to you. The most annoying thing is that they cannot tell you the truth that on no account will they ever release the fund to you, instead they let you spend money unnecessarily. I do not intend to work here all the days of my life, I can release this fund to you if you can certify me of my security, and how I can run away from this Nigeria if I do this, because if I don't run away from this country after i make the transfer, I will seriously be in trouble and my life will be in danger.

Please this is like a Mafia setting in Nigeria, you may not understand it because you are not a Nigerian. The only thing I will need to release this fund is a special HARD DISK we call it HD120 GIG. I will buy two of it, recopy your information, destroy the previous one, punch the computer to reflect in your bank within 24 banking hours. I will clean up the tracer and destroy your file, after which I will run away from Nigeria to meet with you. If you are interested.

SPECIAL INFORMATION:YOU WILL SEND THE FEE FOR THE HARD DISK FIRST BEFORE I MAKE YOUR TRANSFER.DONT CONTACT ME IF YOU CAN NOT SEND THE HARD DISK FEE FIRST.AS SOON AS I RECEIVE YOUR EMAIL I WILL LET YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THE DISK WILL COST YOU.

Do get in touch with me immediately.



Regards,
Jane James.
Computer Scientist
janejames01@hotmail.co.uk


At first glance, I thought this was saying something about refunding bank charges. However, this email is obviously targetted at people who don't live in Nigeria, i.e. people who probably don't have any accounts with a Nigerian bank. It also seemed odd that the sender went out of her way to emphasise how corrupt the country is!

Looking at it more closely, I think this email is actually trying to target people who have previously given money to 419 spammers. As I understand it, these scams work by luring people on with the promise of money, but always asking for a bit more cash that has to be paid upfront. So, suppose that I had gone through that process, and eventually realised that I was never going to get the money they'd promised. I then get an email from this woman saying "Ooh, you're really close - you almost paid all the fees! Just a couple more to go!" Clearly she must be legit, otherwise she wouldn't have access to my file, and wouldn't know about all the fees I've already paid. And by mentioning the Mafia, she's confirming my existing suspicions that the people I dealt with before were lying to me. Therefore, I'd be much better off dealing with her!

Since I haven't been involved with any of this stuff in the past (and I actually know a bit about computers), it's easy for me to recognise the message as a fake, but I can see how it might be convincing to people who've been fooled before. It also fits the standard pattern by asking for an unspecified amount of money to buy hard drives, and lays the groundwork for future claims (so that the sender can leave the country).

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