Sign up to our newsletter
The FBI has issued an alert that scammers are now sending out phishing emails that purport to come from the agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
Having received “numerous victim complaints”, the FBI’s authority on internet scams has identified four different versions of the scam. In one of the variations, the email informs the recipient that they have been a victim of internet fraud and that they’re “eligible for restitution” for the damage incurred.
In order to receive the money – a rather generous sum of £1,459,910 (or some $2 million) for each ‘victim’ to be exact – all that the recipient needs to do is download, fill out and send back an attached text document with personal information. The document itself is tainted with malicious code which the IC3 said is “designed to further victimize the recipient”.
According to the FBI, the email also references news reports covering the case of an internet con man. The name of a European law firm that is claimed to have secured all that windfall for the ‘victims’ is thrown in for good measure, apparently in order to further boost its aura of legitimacy.
In another IC3 impersonation, the email states that “the recipient was treated unfairly by various banks and courier companies”. Perhaps in order to further increase its allure, it tells a tale of no less than $10.5 million that each recipient is to be awarded by way of compensation for the ‘fact’ that their funds were previously sent to fraudsters in Nigeria and other countries.
Another template attempts to scare, rather than thrill, the recipients. Upon learning that “your IP address and other identifying information were used to commit multiple online crimes”, the mark is urged to contact the sender by phone immediately.
Yet another phishing email in circulation attempts to beguile the targets into inputting personal information via a fake IC3 social media page, all under the guise of reporting an online crime.
This wave of fraudulent emails – perhaps because of explicitly referencing purported ploys that link to Nigeria in one way or another – may recall to mind another family of email-borne frauds, called Nigerian scams. Those schemes – only a portion of which actually nowadays originate from the West African country – are older than email, but they quickly went on to become a staple among internet fraud. In a story that made headlines several weeks ago, a senior citizen from Louisiana, USA, was charged with multiple crimes over his alleged role as middleman in hundreds of ‘Nigerian prince’ scams.
Author Tomáš Foltýn, ESET