Study: Obvious Nigerian scam emails appear that way for a reason

Microsoft cracks the tactic that keeps email scammers in business

Have you ever wired money to an overseas bank account simply because you received an email asking you to do so? Probably not, but there are plenty of people who have done just that, and they have paid the price with ruined credit histories and even identity theft. A Microsoft researcher named Corman Herley did a bit of homework on this scam (PDF here) — typically referred to as a "Nigerian" or "419" scam — and found why the attack still works after all these years.

We've all seen the emails littering our spam folders: Written in broken English, the attacker claims to be a member of a Nigerian royal family wanting to move a large quantity of money to the United States. The sender offers a large chunk of this cash to the recipient in exchange for some assistance. Usually the scam involves sending some "good faith" money to an overseas account in order to get the process started — a request that only the most naive web user would agree to.

This is where all but the most gullible individuals detect that something is up and promptly cut off all communication with the scammer, but the blatant obviousness of the situation is exactly what the perpetrator wants to convey. The thieves have kept the same "Nigerian prince" story for so long that the only people who actually take the time to respond are also the ones that are the most likely to hand over huge amounts of money to someone they've never met.

Herley's research shows that spam emails claiming to be from a country other than Nigeria are actually more work for the scammers. In situations like this, the sender often has to spend time coaxing individuals who may eventually realize they're being taken advantage of. Those who respond to emails from the Nigerian prince are often gullible enough to hand over their money with much less effort.

The scammers have gone from targeting everyone with an email account, to only focusing on the very narrow portion of the population that is somehow oblivious to this type of attack. It seems that by never changing the tactic, the scam is now more efficient than ever before.

The key takeaway from this study is that the 419 spam emails you see — and probably laugh at — are still costing innocent internet users loads of cash. Make sure your friends and family understand that these emails are a fraud, regardless of what country the scammer claims to be from. You may save yourself or someone you know a lot of heartache.

(Source)

More from Tecca:

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • What can void a new car warranty? James Deakin - Wheel Power
    What can void a new car warranty?

    "I was denied warranty once for changing my horn!" One very annoyed reader wrote. "I was told that placing a backup camera will void my warranty" said another. The others are best left in my private inbox as Yahoo! have a swear jar in the office that I do not feel like donating this week's pay to. Continue reading → …

  • Docu exposes destruction of PH marine resources VERA Files - The Inbox
    Docu exposes destruction of PH marine resources

    By Kiersnerr Gerwin B. Tacadena, VERA Files “Gutom (hunger),” Sen. Loren Legarda said is what’s in store for the Filipino people if destruction of the country's marine resources is not stopped. Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on Environment and Natural … Continue reading → …

  • ‘Yolanda’ fiberglass boats modern-day Noah’s ark VERA Files - The Inbox
    ‘Yolanda’ fiberglass boats modern-day Noah’s ark

    By Jane Dasal, VERA Files If you want to save the earth, build a boat. That's what a group of environmentalists is saying, especially if you want to save both the forests and fishermen affected by supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan). “Haiyan … Continue reading → …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options