Ongoing conflict in Syria has resulted in a “surge” of Nigerian scam emails containing references to the Middle East country, says global internet security firm Kaspersky.
A civil war has been raging in Syria since 2011 as rebel forces seek to oust the Ba’ath government.
And Nigerian spammers have sought to take advantage of the on-edge political situation in Syria, says Kaspersky.
Kaspersky says the Nigerian scam messages, written in the names of representatives of reputed Syrian and UK banks, typically state that their ‘clients’ want to transfer multi-million savings from their accounts because of the Syrian unrest, and that they are looking for a partner to help them.
The scammers also provide a contact phone number and the personal email of the “bank client” allegedly looking for a partner.
After a recipient shows interest and responds, the scammers then ask the recipient to transfer a small amount of money to pay for the mediator’s services, says Kaspersky.
Upon receiving payment the scammers then disappear.
Kaspersky asays the messages are sent both in the names of ordinary citizens of that country and on behalf of representatives of banks and even humanitarian organisations.
Moreover, the texts of the messages make frequent use of words such as “turmoil”, “crisis” or “revolution”.
One form of the scam has scammers even posing as members of the International Red Cross, telling a sad story of an oil trader who died in the Syrian conflict, and whose fortune was saved by a Red Cross employee.
“Some of the emails detected by analysts at Kaspersky Lab appear to have been sent using the names of ‘ordinary’ Syrians, and had a variety of themes,” says Kaspersky in a press statement.
“In one, a ‘teacher from Syria’ asks recipients to help orphaned children who have inherited a large sum from their parents to leave the country and invest the money. Other ‘Nigerian’ letters also came from allegedly critically ill people who want to donate some of their money and ask the recipients for help in doing so,” explains Kaspersky.
Tatyana Shcherbakova, senior spam analyst at Kaspersky Lab, commented: “We came across very brief messages in which the author merely wanted to get to know the recipient better.”
“Having got the recipient’s attention, the scammers play on people’s natural desire for easy money and to help people in distress. Users shouldn’t respond to these types of emails because once you are in communication with a ‘Nigerian’ scammer, you risk being cheated,” Shcherbakova said.