Feeds

419ers offer Russian oil fortune

As email fraudsters exploit US mining disaster

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Advance-fee fraudsters are attempting to dupe computer users into thinking they are in line to receive money from a jailed Russian oil tycoon via an aggressive new spam campaign.

The spam email poses as a message from the personal secretary of billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky and offers recipients a cool $8m providing they'll "help transfer" around $40m of Khodorkovsky's fortune. Khodorkovsky, the former CEO of Russian oil firm Yukos, is serving an eight-year jail sentence for tax and fraud offences.

UK-based security firm Sophos warns that the scam emails might be used as a ploy to entice users into handing over details of their bank accounts as a prelude to possible identity fraud, as well as stringing people along in a attempt to get get to hand over bogus advance fees for money that never materialises.

"Originally we saw the scammers sending their messages about Khodorkovsky in Russian, but now they are spreading their wings and sending their scam emails all around the world in English," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "The notoriety of the case against the Yukos CEO has made his fame a prime target for exploitation by internet criminals."

The email con-trick is the latest of many 419 scams. While such frauds remain common, let's not forget less elaborate frauds are also in circulation. Last week pond-dwelling scumbags crafted a scam that exploited sympathy over the recent mining accident in Sago, West Virginia to bilk sympathetic marks for money. These centred on fraudulent emails purporting to be from a doctor treating Randal McCloy, the sole survivor of the incident. The email describes the condition of the survivor and the amount of money that is needed for a full recovery in an attempt to get people to hand over their readies.

The message reads in part: "We need your generous financial assistance to our beloved citizen, brother and friend Mr. Randal McCloy to enable him to undergo all the surgical operations and medical treatments that will cost several millions of dollars in saving his life and bringing him to his normal state of life."

Once again, where tragedy strikes, scammers and virus writers are not far behind. The FBI Pittsburgh is investigating the scam, working with other law enforcement and private industry partners to identify the people responsible for the despicable ruse which, based on past form, doesn't come as too much of a surprise. Previous email scams have been themed around the Tsunami disaster in Asia of December 2004 and, more recently, Hurricane Katrina and terrorist bombings in London.

In a statement on the latest scam, the FBI said: "Computer users are strongly urged not to open or respond to unsolicited emails of any kind. Furthermore, emails requesting personal information or soliciting funds should be thoroughly verified for their legitimacy before responding." ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.