It's been interesting to see how the so-called Nigerian 419 scams have evolved over time as people have become more familiar with them. In the past, it's often been difficult to feel too sorry for victims, as they were taken in by their own greed at the possibility of sharing in a large amount of illicitly gained loot. However, it appears the recent variations play less on greed and much more on charitable emotions. Last month, we wrote about Nigerian scammers exploiting the idea of cute puppies needing a home, and now comes a report that the latest trick is to combine phishing with a 419 scam to try to get your friends to wire money to Nigeria, thinking it's to help you. It starts with a typical phishing scam, in an attempt to get your webmail password. Then, once the scammers have access to your webmail, they send an urgent email to all of your contacts, saying that you are in Nigeria, and you lost your wallet and are in serious trouble, and are requesting a quick loan wired to Nigeria. Of course, the emails seem to be sent out to just about everyone, meaning that many people will realize it's not true. At least in the example above, it's written in typically bad 419-scam "English," making it obviously fake. However, it's likely that this will continue to evolve and get better as well -- again, preying on people's best interests rather than their greed.
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