Facebook hit by Nigerian 419 scam

Scammers are now trawling Facebook for new victims

Scammers are trawling Facebook for victims using a convincing twist on the notorious 'Nigerian 419' scam.

Normally, 419 scams are easy to spot and involve email requests for money from supposedly rich individuals in countries such as Nigeria, from which the fraud gets its name. The latest Facebook attack is much craftier, however, because it hijacks the identities of real people known to Facebook members, asking for money under an apparently plausible guise.

An Australian news site reports that one Google Australian employee who was contacted using the social networking site by a person known to her, asking for $500 dollars to allow him to return home from Lagos, Nigeria, where he claimed to be stranded.

She became suspicious that the contact was bogus only after noting subtle irregularities in the fraudster's use of Australian English. "After chatting further, words such as "cell" instead of "mobile phone" tipped Wells off that she was not talking to her friend but someone who had taken over his account," the report said.

"Many Facebook users don't even know how many friends they have on the site, let alone what they are all doing and where they are, and this is providing the scammers with a new vector of attack" said Graham Cluley of Sophos, the company that unearthed this particular scam.

"Unfortunately this is just the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle taking place between Facebook users and cybercriminals intent on exploiting the site and its members for their own financial gain."

Social networking's insecurities are many-headed. Emails from domains such as Facebook are more likely to reach an individual's inbox because they come from trusted domains; hijacking such domains to create fake email accounts been one of the year's growing problems on webmail systems such as Google, Hotmail and yahoo.

As it is, Facebook users have a reputation for giving up personal information too easily, while such sites have also been under attack from a range of information-farming direct exploits.

A secondary problem is that social networking offers scammers the ultimate prize of being able to hijack the identity of a trusted person to execute fraud. The Facebook 419 scam is an example of this, using plausibility and a demand for a modest amount of money to overcome suspicion. If social networking systems become infected by such trust-based fraud to any degree they will likely become unviable in their current form.

"Unless people take more care when securing their computers and personal data, there's no doubt that we'll see more electronic conmen using stolen Facebook identities to steal money from the innocent by posing as their online buddies," said Cluley.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags FacebookNigerian scam

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John E. Dunn

Techworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?