The accused "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is now being used by 419 scammers as a method of social engineering.
Researchers at Symantec have come across a 419 letter (named after the offence in the Nigerian criminal code) which claims to come from the accused terrorist’s brother, who is attempting to get funds from his account.
The letter says it is looking for a “Muslim brother” to provide an account where the funds can be transferred to via the banking system.
“Without replying to scammer it's impossible to be sure exactly how the scam works, but we have every suspicion that it operates like most 419 scams,” said Nicholas Johnston, Senior Anti-Spam Engineer, Symantec Hosted Services.
“Before the non-existent money can be released, various increasingly inventive fees and charges have to be paid. These fees continue until the victim of the scam eventually realizes that they have no chance of getting any money, and gives up. Victims are often too embarrassed to contact police, and the scammers continue.”
This kind of scam is often tied to current events in an attempt to attract people but respond. Past cases have included the terror bombings in London and the war in Iraq.
The amount such scams can rake in is very large according to police. In the US, one government official paid US$1.2m in such a fraud.