New email scam promises money from the late Sir Denis Thatcher's will, reports Sophos

March 16, 2005 Sophos Press Release

Spam researchers at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus and spam analysis centres, are warning computer users to be wary of a new email scam, which dupes innocent people into believing they are the beneficiaries of the late Sir Denis Thatcher's last will and testament, in order to steal their identity and make a profit.

The email, which claims to come from the attorneys of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's late husband, claims that the recipient will receive £950,000 in compensation for work they have done helping the less privileged. The email claims that Sir Denis Thatcher collected the money during his long and successful career in business.

In order to obtain the inheritance, recipients are asked to provide personal information such as documents of identification, address, telephone and fax numbers, in accordance with the British government's inheritance law.

However, the emails are fake; and users who innocently send their personal details may have their identity stolen, together with money taken from their bank accounts.

"Scammers are constantly trying to dupe computer users into divulging sensitive information with the promise of big money," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Using the late Sir Denis Thatcher's name is a sick trick designed to entice the unwary into falling for the scam."

This email con-trick is the latest of many 419 scams. These scams are named after the relevant section of the Nigerian penal code where many of the scams originated and are unsolicited emails where the author offers a large amount of money. Once a victim has been drawn in, requests are made from the fraudster for private information which may lead to requests for money, stolen identities, and financial theft.

Other examples of 419 email scams include a message claiming to come from a persecuted widow of the late Nigerian head of state, an associate of the massacred Nepalese royal family, and even an African astronaut stranded on the Mir spacestation.

Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can defend businesses from the threats of both spam and viruses; and that users do not open or reply to unsolicited emails.

Read a copy of the latest 419 scam which references Sir Denis Thatcher.