|President Obasanjo of Nigeria is cracking down on
The Nigerian President has announced that the country is to
launch an inquiry into email fraudsters who attempt to swindle
money over the internet.
For some years, Nigeria has been well-known for being the origin
of many scams, which attempt to empty the bank accounts of the
unwary. As a result, Nigeria's name has been tarnished by the
In the scams,
innocent users are typically contacted by someone based in Nigeria,
who promises a share of non-existent riches. When the innocent
victim forwards his confidential bank account details to the
contact in Nigeria, the money sitting in the account is stolen.
President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria told the BBC that the new
inquiry into the internet fraud (known as a "419" ) will examine the
existing laws addressing the problem, and consider whether a new
agency needs to be put in place to investigate such crimes. "The
government will step up measures against these criminal
activities," he said.
More than 200 people, including a federal lawmaker, have been
arrested by Nigeria's anti-fraud squad since May for suspected
involvement in computer fraud. Amongst those facing prosecution are
the alleged masterminds of the biggest ever 419 swindle, a $180
million fraud that brought down a bank in Brazil.
Sophos has seen the 419 scam slowly develop. Initially
unsolicited emails promising fantasy fortunes came from Nigeria,
but other scams have claimed to originate from Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. In one of the most
bizarre cases, the fraudster claimed to have obtained access to a
secret $30 million fortune of the massacred Nepalese Royal Family.
"These scams are orchestrated by people who spam them en masse
to millions of computer users around the world, hoping someone will
fall for the trick and hand over their secret bank details," said
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "This is
much worse than regular spam - this is a direct attempt to rob you
of your savings and leave your bank account empty."
Sophos recommends that recipients of scam messages do not reply.
Sophos PureMessage, which offers
consolidated anti-spam and anti-virus protection, is capable of
preventing them from entering business email systems.
In October, a suspected perpetrator of a similar scam appeared in an Australian