‘Nigerian’ Scam still top online Scam, says PandaLabs

the best defense

PandaLabs, Panda Security’s anti-malware laboratory has drawn up a ranking of the most widely used scams over the last few years. These confidence tricks, which are still in wide circulation, all have the same objective: to defraud users of amounts ranging from $500 to thousands of dollars.

Typically, these scams follow a similar pattern: initial contact is made via email or through social networks. The intended victim is then asked to respond, either by email, telephone, fax, etc. Once this initial bait has been taken, criminals will try to gain the trust of the victim, finally asking for a sum of money under one pretext or another.

According to Luis Corrons, Technical Director of PandaLabs, “As with all the classic scams that predate the Internet, many of the numerous users that fall for these tricks and lose their money are reticent to report the crime. And if recovering the stolen money was difficult in the old days, it is even harder now as the criminals’ tracks are often lost across the Web. The best defense is to learn how to identify these scams and avoid taking the bait”.

More information at the PandaLabs website.

Wall Street Bail-out Scam Email Joke

As reported in the Washington Post’s “The Trail‘ section, here’s an email that’s making the rounds in Washington, and now, the rest of the world. No one is claiming authorship, but the ‘trail’ seems to start at the SEC. Enjoy!

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

Anatomy of a Secondary Scam – Taking down a Nigerian Scam

After receiving this email …


This email is not in any manner directed to you, but its purposely and specifically directed to Nigeria Scam victims. . However, if you have fallen for Nigerian Scams, do not hesitate to contact us or visit our website for more details on how we can help.

We shall be waiting to hearing from you been certain that you were truly scammed by a Nigerian and you have proves to back your claims. Please read the full report at our website:

Yours faithfully,
Brian Adams
Nigerian Government Reimbursement Committee

I was interested enough to play them along to see where it lead. so I sent this email in reply …

I have been scammed by some Nigerians – they took $30,000 from me – how can I get it back?


The reply was ….

Snapshot of the ScamsRefund.Org website, before it is taken down

Dear Mark,

Thank you for responding to our mail, Please find the attached Application Form and fill it appropriately. Please complete the form and return to us for an immediate processing, ensure that you provide sufficient information that might lead to the arrest of the Scam Artist.

Make sure that you attach all necessary proofs, facts and payment receipt made when transacting or communicating with the Scam Artist as this would help us to trace the true identity of the person behind the wall.

Under this act, the Federal Government of Nigeria with an effort to fight internet fraud and other immoral and illegal use of the internet, the government has also complied with the United Nations regulations in a recent meeting held at Abuja, the Federal Capital of Nigeria, to reimburse 150 scam victims. This is done to redeem the image of Nigeria both home and abroad.

We are hopeful that your Application meets the required standard and thus qualify you for the reimbursement which would be done without any problem.

Moreover, ensure that there are no discrepancies in the information you are submitting because we are going to speak with you over the phone and ask you some few technical questions as regards your application in order to authenticate your request.

If you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us, and if you experience some difficulty downloading the Application Form, kindly let us know so that we can resend it in another format or you log on to our website to complete the form.

Yours faithfully,
David Bamko
Anti Nigeria Scams Dept.

So, I filled in the form Scams Refund Form and waited …


Scam Victims as Criminal as the Scammers?

This just in….

Australian victims of Nigerian online scams are greedy and should be jailed along with the Africans who relieved them of their cash, according to High Commissioner Sunday Olu Agb (Nigerian Envoy to Canberra).

“People who send their money are as guilty as those who are asking them to send the money,”

He said media coverage of Nigerian scams had given the corruption-plagued country “a bad image.” Agbi was responding to a police report that said Australians were losing A$36 Million (about $US 31,000,000) to online scams.

He complained that “those who want to transact business with us are always very suspicious”.

read more in the report by the Sydney Morning Herald

I agree that greed is what drives a large number of scams – as a social engineering construct, it works very well – the knowledge that the actions that they are taking are at best immoral, at worst criminal is normally tempered by the displacement of the crime (eg. another continent) and also the large amounts of money involved and the sense that no-one will ever find out.

When the scam is exposed, the common pattern or events is disbelief, then rage and then either shame/penitence or denial (The Sunk Cost Fallacy?). The last is always the most destructive – This is exploited by scammers who, when the victim has realized his errors, will offer more scams, purportedly to enable the victim to recover some of his lost money. I have seen this many times and the 419 type scammers are the experts at this type of ‘scam cascade’.

Greed, Opportunity and Low Risk drives all financial crimes – an email arriving with a request from an African official to help him ‘move’ some money out of his country to yours is just the ‘carrot’ that many people need.