Saturday, 30 November 2013

Talking About Scams & Spams

Several months ago I was having an e-conversation with some friends. One of them was attending a particular Model United Nations (MUN) conference at a school in Europe under sponsorship. Somehow, I got the idea to have a debut experience at HNMUN. But the information I received was different from what was obtainable. I later realized that I could not access sponsorship for my application. It happened due to miscommunication. Weeks later, I heard about someone who paid the wrong guys for his MUN application. He had been sent spams and thought he was communicating with the right folks. By the time he knew the truth, he had lost his money. Now, that was a scam.

One could easily assume that most internet users know how to identify scam mails. But recent happenings have proven otherwise. The amount of spammed mails received by internet users is not abating, especially for those using free email accounts in developing countries. In addition, when people have their email addresses enlisted on websites that do not have adequate data protection mechanisms, they expose themselves to heavy spams from prospective scammers. The simple use of email crawlers is efficient enough for scammers to create databases containing thousands of email addresses.

Spams are different from credit, debit or prepaid card fraud in that the former does not require specialized hacking or programming skills. Spams are unwanted or unsolicited emails that are randomly sent to the mailboxes of internet users who may or may not have an interest in the content of such messages. They can be in form of any language that the scammer finds suitable. To scam someone, a cybercriminal just needs to deceive the mail recipients by phishing (sending fake emails) and taking advantage of their impatience, ignorance, carelessness or greed.

It is now common practice for fraudsters to defraud consumers of online banking through phishing. ACI’s 2012 survey results of 5,200 respondents in 17 various countries showed that 1 in 4 consumers are victims of bank fraud.

I heard of a lady who lost her monthly salary to fraudsters during her national youth service corps (NYSC). They had deceived her by sending a duplicate of her bank’s original email to her mailbox. In the email, she was warned about the need to update her account for security reasons. They also asked her to click a link to her personal banking portal and enter her personal identification details. The mail contained the bank’s logo, usual sign-offs and exact outline. But unknown to her, the domain name of the sender’s email address was different from her bank’s actual address by a single character. By simply mousing over the suggested link, she could have seen the full domain name of the fake website and realized the difference.

Below is an example of the scam mails I have been receiving since someone (I do not know who exactly) enlisted my email address on the unsafe webpage of a particular training company.

Scam Mail Begins

The Telefónica Notification
Liverpool L70 1NL United Kingdom
Customer service Notification Desk.
Tel: +44 702 409 6807

Congratulation!!! Dear Account Holder.

We are happy to announce to you that your active e-mail account attached to computer generated ticket number: DS41457482
has won prize Sum of £850,000.00 Britain Pound in our 1st Category of international lottery Jackpot.

Download the attachment file for claims and payment details: (Telefónica Lottery Jackpot.doc)..
Selby Duffield.
Online coordinator.
The UK (O2) Telefónica International Promotion Inc.

End of Scam Mail

Needless to say, I did not play any lottery or jackpot. So, why should I be told that I have won the sum? If I were greedy enough, maybe I would have shown interest. But unfortunately for them, I am not.

 To read more about scams, visit

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