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21 Jul 2005

Over 300 arrested in huge 419 scam investigation, Sophos reports

Email scams attempt to fool innocent computer users out of their savings
Email scams attempt to fool innocent computer users out of their savings

310 people have been arrested in Malaga, Spain as part of an investigation into a 300 million Euro ($363 million) lottery scam that attempted to rob innocent internet users out of their savings.

According to Spanish media reports, the FBI worked alongside Spanish authorities in what is believed to be the biggest round-up of so-called 419 or "Nigerian email" scammers.

Officers raided 166 properties, seizing 2000 cell phones, 327 computers, 165 fax machines, and 218,000 Euros ($263,000) in cash. According to officials, the scam is said to have claimed over 20,000 victims in 45 countries including United States, UK, France, Germany, Australia and Japan.

"Anyone who has an email account which isn't protected by anti-spam software will be all too familiar with email scams which claim they have won fortunes, or offered rewards for anyone prepared to help move money from far flung countries," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "The sad fact is that these scams are still managing to fool people, and organised criminal gangs are profiting from the naivety of internet users. These arrests represent a significant victory for the computer crime authorities, but the battle is far from over."

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have reminded internet users to be on their guard against email scams, and recommended businesses 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.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.