‘Nigerian’ scammers take advantage of Ebola
By Digital News Asia October 28, 2014
- Email purportedly from ‘rich Liberian lady dying of Ebola,’ to WHO job offers
- Spam in September's email traffic averaged 66.5%, 0.7 points down from Aug
SPAMMERS have produced topical new versions of the old ‘Nigerian Letter’ scam, this time based on the Ebola virus, according to the experts at Kaspersky Lab.
Several mass mailings in September exploited this theme, Kaspersky Lab said in a statement.
In September, the company came across an email from a ‘rich Liberian lady dying of Ebola.’ It contained a long story about her children who died from the virus and about a local medical centre that refused to help her.
She was willing to donate more than US$1.5 million to a recipient who would transfer this money to appropriate charities.
The authors of another fraudulent mailing introduced themselves as employees of the World Health Organisation (WHO) tried an unusual tack to attract attention – the reader was invited to a conference where Ebola would be discussed along with other medical issues.
The recipient was also offered a job paying €350,000 a year and a complementary car to take up a position as the WHO’s UK representative.
“Spammers routinely try to exploit breaking news and topical events. The scammers seldom miss an opportunity to use high-profile events to attract the users’ attention and convince them that these fraudulent emails are for real,” said Tatyana Shcherbakova (pic), senior spam analyst at Kaspersky Lab.
“So after the first news reports about Ebola emerged in July, it was no surprise to start seeing related mass mailings as early as September, exploiting the headlines to deceive recipients and extort money from them,” she added.
Kaspersky Lab spam figures:
- The percentage of spam in September's email traffic averaged 66.5%, which is 0.7 percentage points down from August;
- The main distributors of spam were the United States (12%), Vietnam (9.3%) and Russia (5.8%);
- In September, Germany became the country with the most antivirus detections (9.11%) followed by the United Kingdom (8.45%) and the United States (8.26%);
- Financial phishing accounted for 36.97% of all detections made by Kaspersky Lab's anti-phishing component, a 1.7 percentage point growth compared with the previous month.
Among the more unusual mailings of the month, the company saw spam messages targeting collectors. English-language users were offered a free booklet on British medals from the First World War.
The emails with the generous offer supposedly came from the SSAFA, a charity created to assist British war veterans and their families.
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