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07 Aug 2006

Suspected email scam ringleader arrested in Nigeria

Gang said to have stolen $2 million from innocent internet users

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

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 as news breaks of a major arrest in Lagos, Nigeria.

Police in Amsterdam claim that the ringleader of an email scam that stole up to two million US dollars has been arrested in Nigeria's economic capital, where more than 50 suspects are also waiting for court appearances on similar charges. This latest arrest follows the apprehension earlier this year of 12 Nigerians based in the Netherlands, believed to have tricked innocent people into investing in non-existing money-making schemes.

"Millions of computer users around the world see these bogus emails in their inboxes every day, claiming to offer fortunes in the form of fake lottery wins or inheritances to the unwary," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "These emails aren't sent for fun - they really do work, and people are falling for the confidence trick all the time and ending up with their bank accounts raided. The con trick, known as a 419 scam, is big business and computer crime authorities around the world need to work in co-ordination to break the gangs behind them."

419 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.

"Nigeria is a major hub for this kind of criminal activity, and it's good to see the authorities making arrests there even though the victims may be as far away as the United States, UK or Australia," continued Cluley.

Sophos recommends that businesses protect themselves with a consolidated solution against the threats of spam, spyware and viruses; and that users exercise caution when receiving 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.