Sophos, a world leader in IT security and control, has reminded
computer users of the danger of email scams following an attempted
financial fraud which posed as a communication from the grandson of
the late General Pinochet, former military dictator of Chile.
The emails, which arrive with the subject line "President of
chile who died" claim to be sent by Captain Augusto Pinochet
Molina, who was discharged from the Chilean army after making an
unauthorized speech at his grandfather's burial in December
According to the emails, Captain Pinochet is seeking help to
hide his family's fortunes from the authorities. The email includes
a web link to a BBC News story about General Pinochet's funeral in
an attempt to add credibility to the story.
The email claims to come from the grandson of
"Millions of scam emails like this are being sent to internet
users every day, and it's hard to believe that anyone falls for
these confidence tricks. But sadly innocent people do put their
finances in danger by corresponding with scammers such as this, and
everyone with an email address should be on their guard," said
senior technology consultant for Sophos. "It's time everybody
learned not to believe everything they receive via email, but to
take messages such as this with a pinch of salt."
Sophos notes that elements of the email are factually
"General Pinochet did die in December 2006, and his grandson was
dismissed from the army after an incident at the funeral, but that
doesn't mean that people should believe everything else in the
email and hand over personal information," continued Cluley. "The
best liars sprinkle their tales with truths to fool people into
believing them. Internet users need to wise up to these kinds of
tricks to prevent themselves from being suckered in and having
their identity, and potentially finances, stolen."
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 their desktops, servers and
gateways with a consolidated solution to
thwart the threats of viruses, spyware, phishing, hackers and
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.