The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #111956 Message #2492803
Posted By: Amos
13-Nov-08 - 11:25 AM
Thread Name: BS: A new wrinkle on Nigerian Scams
Subject: RE: BS: A new wrinkle on Nigerian Scams
Can you spare $500? Nigerian scammers turn to Facebook
By Jacqui Cheng | Published: November 11, 2008 - 06:25PM CT
"Everyone is getting onto Facebook these days—even Nigerian scammers. The social networking site is falling victim lately to Nigerian scammers weaseling their way into registered users' accounts and then spamming their friends with requests for money. While the Facebook crowd tends to be younger and more Internet-savvy than most, the new tactic could be dangerous, as it makes users believe that the requests are coming from their own peers.
One example that has come to light recently is from Karina Wells of Sydney, Australia. She told the Sydney Morning Herald that she received a message on Facebook from a friend saying he was stranded in Nigeria and needed to borrow $500 for a ticket home. For most people, it wouldn't take much to try and help out a friend in need (assuming you had the funds). However, Wells hesitated because her "friend" had begun to use different language than she was used to—not to mention that people don't just randomly get stranded in Nigeria?—and avoided turning into a victim.
Wells was smart, and many of us like to think we would be, too, but there are sure to be throngs of other Facebook users who will try to reach out to a friend and end up getting scammed.
Why's that? Because scammers exploiting social networking sites for their own nefarious purposes isn't a new phenomenon. With social networking growing in popularity, it's only natural that scammers would turn their attention to Facebook, MySpace, and their brethren. It's not uncommon to receive messages or comments on MySpace, for example, that seem to be from your "friends" but are actually links to spam, porn, and other third-party affiliates. Scammers usually manage to gain access to people's accounts using the same old phishing techniques used in e-mail—by tempting someone to click on a link to another site and handing over their login credentials.
Nigerian scams have been around a long time, and perpetrators have had little difficulty finding new, gullible targets. Nigerian high commissioner Sunday Olu Agbi defends his country, insisting that fewer than 0.1 percent of Nigeria's population is involved in 419 scams, going so far as to say that victims are just as greedy as the scammers.
Many users have been conditioned to treat the contents of their inboxes with extreme suspicion, which is a good thing. What's clear from the increasing amount of suspicious activity on the likes of Facebook is that users of social networking sites are going to need to be just as wary. And if by some strange turn of events you find yourself stranded in Lagos, pick up a phone and don't rely on Facebook or MySpace to raise funds for your flight home. "