Panda Security's anti-malware laboratory, PandaLabs, has just released its list of the most frequent online scams of the past 10 years and the Nigerian scam (419) is tat the top of the list based on based on distribution and frequency. The Nigerian scam or Advance Fee Fraud is popularly called "419" after the section of the Criminal Code of Nigeria that references it.
PandaLabs called the Nigerian scam the first type of scam to appear on the Internet and it continues to be widely used by cybercriminals today. It also said that the scam typically begins with a person receiving an e-mail claiming to be from someone who needs to get a very large sum of money out of a country, often Nigeria.
Targeted victims are then promised a substantial reward if they offer help. However, if they take the bait they will be asked to forward an initial sum to help pay bank fees, often to the tune of $1,000. Once they've sent the sum, their contact disappears and their money is long gone.
Another variation of the Nigerian scam, the compensation scam, also made the top list. With the compensation scam victims are told that there has been a fund set up to compensate victims of 419 and are asked to send fees to start the process.
Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs, "As with all the classic scams that predate the Internet, many of the numerous users that fall for these tricks and lose their money are reticent to report the crime. If recovering the stolen money was difficult in the old days, it is even harder now because criminals' tracks are often lost across the Web. The best defense is to learn how to identify these scams and avoid taking the bait."
Other scams that topped the list most frequent online scams with the Nigerian scam are
Lottery Scam: Similar to the Nigerian scam. Victims typically receives an e-mail that states that the individual won a lottery, and asks for their personal and account details in order to transfer the substantial winnings. Just like the Nigeria scam, victims are asked for an upfront fee to cover bank fees and related expenses.
The Girlfriend Scam: Here the scammers typically claim to be a beautiful girl, often from Russia, who wants to get to know her victim. She will always be young and desperate to visit the victim in his home country. She wants to come immediately, but at the last moment there is a problem and she needs money for her flight ticket or other travel expenses. Unsurprisingly, after she receives the money, she vanishes.
Job Offers: Victims typically receive a message from a foreign company looking for employees or financial agents in their country. The work is somtimes potrayed as easy work that can be done from home and they are promised earnings of up to $3,000 for working just three or four hours a day. If the victim accepts the offer, they'll be asked for their bank account details. In this case they will be used to help steal money from people whose bank account information has been stolen by cybercriminals. The money will be transferred directly to the victim's account, and they will then be asked to forward the money via Western Union. Victims then become "money mules," and when the police investigate the theft, they will be seen as an accomplice.
Facebook / Hotmail/Yahoo: Criminals obtain details to access an account on Facebook, Hotmail or a similar site. They then change the login info for the site so that the real user can no longer access the account, and send a message to all the people in the victim's contact list saying that the account holder is on holiday and has been robbed or attacked just before coming home and needs a substantial amount of money to pay for hotel or hospital bills.
Compensation: This is a variation of the Nigerian 419 scam. The e-mail claims that a fund has been set up to compensate victims of the Nigerian 419 scam, and that their name or address has been listed amongst those possibly affected. Victims are offered compensation, often to the tune of $1 million but will need to pay an advance sum of around $1,000.
The Mistake: Here the criminal contacts someone who has published a classified ad on a site such as Craigslist to sell a house or other high-cost item. With great enthusiasm, the scammers agree to buy whatever it is and quickly send a check, but for an incorrect amount that is always more than the agreed sum. The seller will be asked to return the difference. The check will bounce and the victim will lose any money they transferred to the criminal.
Panda labs also says that these scams typically follow a similar pattern: Criminals make initial contact with the victim through e-mail or on a social network. The intended victim is then asked to respond by e-mail, telephone, fax or some other channel. Once the user takes the bait, the criminals will attempt to gain their victim's trust, finding an excuse to ask for money.
People are advised to be extremely cautious of the offers from unknown people or even requests that seem to come from friends. It is typically good practice to ignore unsolicited requests and always confirm requests from friends or family through a different medium than what was used to send the request. Example if you receive a request, by email, from a friend or family member, try contacting the person directly by phone and asking for confirmation of information that only that person would know.
Finally if an offer sounds to good to be true it probably is to good to be true.
Click here to learn more about the Nigerian, Advance Fee, 419 scam
"The views and opinions expressed in these comment(s) or article(s) do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of NGEX, its partners or its affiliates."
Akwesi yeboah Accra, Ghana May 21, 2012
You pple are just mentioning Nigeria alone where as many country doing all sort of things and nigeria to cover up.............i tell you,there are many honest nigerian than you can imaging but this not to say nigerian are not doing all these
ifeayi chioma omku, nigeria September 22, 2010
i am saying caution should be taken for the 419 stars because it is also depriving the real and truthful transactions which is very bad why is it that Nigerians are not known for good things, drug, child, white slavery popularly known as trafficking, advance fee fraud, election rigging and picking and imposing elective position into offices efcc icpc no person that have been convicted, well i am not yet tired of this country because it is my country but i think it is high time we rise to our challenges the most appalling aspect of it is that our parent even support their children other wise as a parent you should know what your child is doing to be driving expensive cars summarily people caught of 419 should be sentenced to prison for their evil deed what about immunity clause that is covering masqueraded leaders
Monica van Delden Diemen, Netheralnds September 09, 2010
Other scams??? Except for The Girlfriend Scam which has more perpetrators from Russia and the Ukraine then from Nigeria. The Lottery Scam, , Job Offers, The Mistake, Facebook / Hotmail/Yahoo are all 419 advance fee scam and have a Nigerian connection