PandaLabs, Panda Security’s malware analysis and detection laboratory, has found rising incidence of a new cyber scam that involves a personalized email sent by someone claiming to have interest in befriending the recipient as a means of initiating a fraudulent request for money. While variations of these scams raised a red flag for intended victims many years ago, the rise of social networks has enabled criminals to better target their messages based on publically available profile data.
According to PandaLabs, victims of the scheme are lured in by a female sender that initiates contact by sending the recipient, typically a male, an email stating that she has seen his profile on a social network and would like to get to know him. Once the recipient is engaged in the correspondence, the sender begins asking questions about his interests, establishing a friendship with the intended victim and informing him of the fact that while she currently lives in Russia or an Eastern European country, she is planning to move to the country where the recipient lives. Each email is accompanied by photographs of the girl in question to help assure the recipient of her existence and the validity of her impending requests.
Some years ago, this type of fraud tended to arouse more suspicions, yet now, with so many people participating in social networks, they have become more plausible The next step in this scheme comes just when the girl is about to leave her country to meet her new friend. Last-minute “problems” begin to occur, ranging from holdups with a visa to bribes that need to be paid before she can leave the country. To overcome these obstacles, the girl asks for a small sum of money, never more than $500. Unfortunately for the unsuspecting new-found friend, the girl doesn’t actually exist; she is just a device created in order to steal money from gullible victims.
Originally posted on December 9, 2008 @ 1:54 pm