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11 Apr 2006

Sick email scammers use Concorde air disaster in attempt to steal money

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, are warning computer users to be wary of a new email scam, which dupes recipients into believing they could receive millions from a bank account belonging to a victim of the Concorde air disaster, in order for criminals to steal their identity and make a profit.

The emails purport to be from a chartered accountancy firm claiming to have found a bank account containing £20.5 million belonging to one of the disaster's victims, Christian Eich. Mr Eich, a 57-year-old worker for BMW, died along with his wife and two children in the Air France Flight 4590 crash at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport on 25 July 2000. The scammer states that unless claimed by the end of the quarter, the money will be used to buy weapons.

The email - which links to news reports concerning Mr Eich's death, to give the scam more credibility - urges recipients to respond quickly so that 25% of the money can be transferred. However, Sophos warns users that this is likely to lead to a request for personal details or an advance payment. Such information can then be used to steal money from bank accounts and commit identity fraud.

The email scam attempts to steal money by referring to the Concorde air disaster

The email scam attempts to steal money by referring to the Concorde air disaster.

"Mr Eich and his family were genuine victims of the terrible air crash in Paris. Sick criminals are deliberately using their names in an attempt to steal from others, without a thought for the feelings of their friends and relatives," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "Everyone should be wary of emails which offer an unexpected fortune, as it's a trick commonly used by fraudsters to steal money and bank details."

This email con-trick is the latest of many 419 scams - unsolicited emails in which the author offers money to draw a victim in, before requesting private information that can then be used for identity or financial theft. Other 419 email scams include messages claiming to come from a persecuted widow of the late Nigerian head of state, an associate of the massacred Nepalese royal family, and an African astronaut stranded on the Mir space station.

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.

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.