Scamming Phishing and Pharming

There is no shortage of scam artists on the Internet, employing all sorts of techniques to separate honest people from their money. The most notorious is the Nigerian 419 e-mail scam. It preys on people's sense of greed by purporting to have a large sum of inheritance money to give to the recipient, but only after the person pays some transfer fees. These fees start out small, but once these scam-mers hook a victim, they keep going back for more fees. The unsuspecting victim then agrees to pay the other fees in an attempt to recoup the previous fees they have paid by claiming their "prize." (See Figure 13.2.)

Other scams—called phishing and pharming—are not as notorious, are more personal in nature, and are designed to elicit private financial information that the scammers can use for identity fraud. Here is how phishing works: Internet fraudsters send spam e-mail messages that direct the victim to a website that looks just like a legitimate organization's site, typically a bank or PayPal. The site is not the official bank site but a bogus site that looks like it could be real.

It is designed to trick you into divulging your personal financial information by telling you that there is a problem with your bank account and you need to enter your password and other identification numbers to rectify the problem. The e-mail will contain links to the bank's sites, with the legitimate bank domain name in the link, but the HTML code directs the victim to a different site. HTML code for links can be written as <ahref="www.scam-operators-fake-site.com"> www.ReputableBank.com</a>. Note that the web address is different than the text for the link (see Figure 13.3).

Pharming is the latest threat. In the article "Privacy and the Internet: Traveling in Cyberspace Safely" (Privacy rights clearinghouse), pharming is described as "criminals' response to increasing awareness about phishing." Consumers have been alerted to the presence of phishing schemes and have been warned that, when receiving a message that purports to be from your bank, the safest option is to type in the web address of that site rather than click on the embedded links in the e-mail. Pharming works by redirecting the visitor after they have gone to the legitimate site. Presently, it is only possible for the scam artists to instigate on "http" sites, not on the more secure "https" (s for secure) pages.

DEAR SIR,

URGENT AND CONFIDENTIAL 3USINESS PROPOSAL

I AH MAS TAW A3ACHA, WIDOW OF THE LATE NIGERIAN HEAD OF STATE, GEN. 5AMI ABAC HA. AFTER HE DEATH OF MY HUSBAND WHO DIED MYSTERIOUSLY AS A RESULT OF CARDIAC ARREST, I WAS INFORMED 3Y OUR LAWYER, 3ELLO GAM3ARI THAT, MY HUS3AND WHO AT THAT TIME WAS THE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA, CALLED HIM AND CONDUCTED HIM ROUND HIS APARTMENT AND SHOWED HIM FOUR METAL 30XES CONTAINING MONEY ALL IN FOREIGN EXCHANGE AND HE EQUALLY MADE HIM 3ELIEVE THAT THOSE 30XES ARE FOR ONWARD TRANSFER TO HIS OVERSEAS COUNTERPART FOR PERSONAL INVESTMENT.

ALONG THE LINE, MY HUSBAND DIED AND SINCE THEN THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT HAS 3EEN AFTER US, MOLESTING, POLICING AND FREEZING OUR 3ANX ACCOUNTS AND EVEN MY ELDEST SON RIGHT NOW IS IN DETENTION. MY FAMILY ACCOUNT IN SWITZERLAND WORTH USS22,000,000.00 AND 120,000,000.00 DUTCH MARK HAS 3EEN CONFISCATED 3Y THE GOVERNMENT. THE GOVERNMENT IS INTERROGATING HIM (MY SON MOHAMMED) A3OUT OUR ASSET AND SOME VITAL DOCUMENTS. IT WAS IN THE COURSE OF THESE, AFTER THE BURIAL RITE AND CUSTOMS, THAT OUR LAWYER SAW YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS FROM THE PUBLICATION OF THE NIGERIAN 3USINESS PROMOTION AGENCY. THIS IS WHY I AM USING THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SOLICIT FOR YOUR CO-OPERATION AND ASSISTANCE TO HELP ME AS A VERY SINCERE RESPONSIBLE PERSON. I HAVE ALL THE TRUST IN YOU AND I KNOW THAT YOU WILL NOT SIT ON THIS MONEY.

I HAVE SUCCEEDED IN CARRYING THE FOUR METAL 30XES OUT OF THE COUNTRY, WITH THE AID OF SOME TOP GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL, WHO STILL SHOW SYMPATHY TO MY FAMILY, TO A NEIGHBOURING COUNTRY (ACCRA-GHANA) TO 3E PRECISE. I PRAY YOU WOULD HELP US IN GETTING THIS MONEY TRANSFERRED OVER TO YOUR COUNTRY. EACH OF THESE METAL 30XES CONTAINS DSS5,000,000.00 (FIVE MILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS ONLY) AND TOGETHER THESE FOUR 30XE5 CONTAIN US20,000,000.00[TWENTY MILLION UNITED STATESDOLLARS ONLY). THIS IS ACTUALLY WHAT WE HAVE MOVED TO GHANA.

THEREFORE, I NEED AN URGENT HELP FROM YOU AS A MAN OF GOD TO HELP GET THIS MONEY IN ACCRA GHANA TO YOUR COUNTRY. THIS MONEY, AFTER GETTING TO YOUR COUNTRY, WOULD 3E SHARED ACCORDING TO THE PERCENTAGE AGREED 3Y 30TH OF US.PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS MATTER IS STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL AS THE GOVERNMENT WHICH MY LATE HUS3AND WAS PART OF IS STILL UNDER SURVAILLANCE TO FR03E US.

YOU CAN CONTACT ME THROUGH MY FAMILY LAWYER AS INDICATED ABOVE AND ALSO TO LIAISE WITH HIM TOWARDS THE EFFECTIVE COMPLETION OF THIS TRANSACTION ON TEL/FAX NO:xxx-x-xxxxxxx AS HE HAS THE MANDATE OF THE FAMILY TO HANDLE THIS TRANSACTION.

THANKS AND 3EST REGARD

MRS. MARIAM A3ACHA

FiGuRE 13.2

Nigerian e-mail scam letter.

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