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419-lite scammers target pet lovers

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Email con-men are targeting animal lovers in new variants of advance fee fraud scams.

Bogus offers that began circulating earlier this week typically pose as hunts for a new home for a puppy called Timi. The purported owners don't want any money themselves, or so they claim, but there's the small matter of export costs, inoculations and other "incidental expenses". Inevitably, the value of such expenses escalate with little sign of the doggy concerned as the scam reveals its true colours.

Net security firm MessageLabs, which began intercepting mails promoting the scam over the last day or so, said it has the potential to bypass anti-spam filters simply because they don't resemble typical junk mail messages. "The return address is real, and there is no mention of the typical 419-type content," according to MessageLabs.

Scam emails preying on the vulnerable, in contrast to those targeting high-rollers with more money than sense, are relatively new. But MessageLabs expects to see more variants along the same lines as 419 fraudsters expand their repertoire of 419-lite scams beyond the fictitious lottery wins. ®

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