Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have warned computer users to be wary of an email claiming to come from a dying KGB agent offering to pass on secrets of the John F Kennedy assassination. Sophos believes that the spammed email campaign is an attempt to lure unsuspecting lovers of conspiracy theories into handing over cash and confidential information to internet scammers.
The email's author, who says he is suffering from a terminal disease, claims to have access to declassified CIA documents, files from the former KGB, and interviews with key people that have never before been made public. In the email, which has been spammed out across the internet, he tells people that his information could help the recipient become famous:
You can talk about it with your friends and neighbors. You can write your own shocking book that will have success and bring you fame. You can call in to radio talk shows. You can raise the issues. You can demand answers - not in 50 years or 100 years, but right now, in our lifetime.
The person behind the scam email claims to have secrets about the Kennedy assassination.
"There is a conspiracy at work here, but it's not about whether someone was lurking on a grassy knoll in Dallas on 22 November 1963," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Internet criminals are conspiring to steal sensitive information and raid the bank accounts of unsuspecting internet users. If everyone showed the same skepticism to unsolicited emails as some do to the official investigations into the Kennedy assassination, then maybe less people would end up the victims of a scam."
This email con-trick is a variant of many existing 419 email 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 automatically update their corporate virus protection, and run a consolidated solution at the email gateway to defend against viruses, spyware and spam.
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.