419 Scam Targets Protests in the Middle East

If you have an e-mail address, chances are pretty good you’ve been hit with a 419 scam (you know, those infamous Nigerian requests to send money). 

Not surprisingly, the bad guys are using the protests in the Middle East to their advantage. Symantec found that 419 scams are preying on those who may be sympathetic to the protesters, and are apparently being sent through an IP address based in Ghana. Nick Johnston wrote on his blog:

The scam message claims to be written by someone connected to Libya’s Senussi crown (overthrown by Muammar al-Gaddafi in his 1969 coup d’�tat). The scam follows a fairly normal form: the scammer claims to want assistance in transferring his money out of the country, and is prepared to pay for help. The scammer alludes to his involvement in the oil business, possibly thinking that this will entice people to reply to get a share of the wealth. Of course, the scammer will demand ever-inventive upfront fees and charges, and never send any money.

Cyber criminals like to use popular news stories and cultural events as a way to spread malware. I’ve searched, but haven’t found any news that websites or videos have been poisoned based on news out of Libya, Egypt and other countries in the midst of unrest. I’d like to hear reports of such attacks, if anyone knows of any. I admit to being a bit wary, especially since social media has played such a vital role in the protests and for spreading news throughout the world despite Internet shutdowns in some countries. 

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