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FCO warns over bogus credit crunch relief phishing email

Fraudsters adapt methods to hard-up times

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has warned Brits and others to ignore a phishing scam currently circulating around the internet.

Scam emails attempt to trick users into submitting personal data, in exchange for a chance to benefit from a fictitious "Recession Relief Programme Fund". The bogus emails purport to come from Foreign Secretary David Miliband and feature subject lines such as "Global economic crisis relief aid", as explained in an FCO warning here, issued on Monday.

The stimulus package announced by government leaders at the G20 conference last month makes the attempted FCO-themed fraud timely, without making it any more plausible. Most internet savvy users would smell a rat a mile off, but it only takes a tiny fraction to respond to make the ruse worthwhile for cybercrooks. Trend Micro notes the ploy is similar to "Obama Stimulus Check" scam emails spammed out in January.

Phishing scams began as an attempt to trick the gullible into handing over login credentials for online banking or PayPal accounts under the guise of security checks.

Over the years the brands targeted by such attacks have expanded to include a much wider range of e-commerce outlets, and more occasionally, as with the latest example, posing as messages from government departments. Government-themed phishing scams used to offer tax refunds but now we're seeing examples of supposed grant offers, another sign that fraudsters are adapting to the recession.

Phishing scams in general are more frequently targeted towards consumers, but businesses are not immune to getting taken to the cleaners either. ®

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