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Scambusters target 419 online ‘banks’

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"Enjoy these ugly websites as long as they're online - they are as good as dead." So claims a new website - Artists against 419 - that has identified 53 fake banks and financial agencies, presumed to be Nigerian in origin.

Most of these sites, with names such as Apextrustbank or Bondplc.com, are used in 419 advanced fee frauds. Some look truly plausible, until you notice their postal address. Since when is the Isle of Man located on Dominica?

Unfortunately, some do look strikingly real. A couple are JavaScript-protected or use a 3rd party SSL service (security certificates) to give the impression they are legit.

Besides a few off-shore banks, most companies are registered in the Netherlands, South Africa and in the UK, and very often supported by web hosting companies from the US.

Some hosting providers, however, do take action. Since Artists against 419 started operating, around 85 scam websites have been removed.

The scam bait site recommends readers to hotlink directly to images on the scamsites and waste their bandwidth. Will a 410kb image hurt them that much, you may ask? It will if you reload it every two minutes. With 5,000 visitors that's over 4.1 gigabyte a month, the site claims. As most (cheap) hosting providers have a limit of just 1 gigabyte of data a month, that is really going to cost them. ®

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