Nigerian scammers targeting Australian email inboxes have added a new IT industry-related twist to their advance fee fraud attempts.
Several emails received by iTnews in the last month have tried to trick recipients into divulging their bank account or credit card details or sending money to the scammers by faking orders for IT equipment such as printers, copiers and fax machines.
Usually, the advance free fraud or '419' scam involves letters, faxes or emails requesting assistance in transferring a large sum of money. Senders purport to be rich families or businesspeople who have fallen on hard times and need assistance in getting millions of dollars out of their country.
However, in one that iTnews received on 20 April the scam takes a relatively new form.
The email purported to be from a Mr Kayode Benson, the owner of a company called Benson Limited based in Nigerian city Lagos.
"Hello, sales," it said. "I will liike to confirm if you can supply us some PRINTERS, COPIERS AND FAX MACHINE and also if you can ship to us via Fedex/ups courier to our location and also we will be paying with our credit for all order."
The email requests payment by Visa or MasterCard "at youir earliest convinnience" but contains no links or URLs suggesting it is one of the more common "phishing" scams, where email recipients are tricked into clicking on a link and entering their credit card or bank account details.
"Mr Kayode Benson" at firstname.lastname@example.org then provides a list of contact details for the user, including postal address, phone and fax numbers.
A "Nigerian scam" does not need to be Nigerian – in fact, many hail from other countries, sometimes even Australia – but typically aims to trick the recipient with a fake "business proposal" into corresponding with the scammer with a view to defrauding him or her over time.
"Ajayi" claimed to represent a company called "Procurment LTD" that was interested in buying IT products. "We will like to know the shipping charge to lagos nigeria, via UPs or Ems service," it said.
"Ajayi" claimed he wanted to buy products by credit card. "We shall be highly oblige if you reply to this urgent enquiry with your contact phone number and possible your website, so we can forward our items quote. thanks," he said.
According to the 419 Coalition watchdog website, advance fee fraud business letter scams are the third to fifth largest industry in Nigeria. Despite the common misspellings and bad grammar in such letters, many recipients around the world have over the past 10 years been tricked out of many thousands of dollars.
The many common variations include an over-invoiced or double-invoiced purchase order for goods and services, typically commodities such as crude oil or chemicals.
"At some point, the victim is asked to pay up front an advance fee of some sort, be it an "advance fee", "transfer tax", "performance bond", or to extend credit, grant cash-on-delivery privileges, send back "change" on a cashier's check or money order, whatever," the website said.
"If the victim pays the fee, there are often many "complications" which require still more advance payments until the victim either quits, runs out of money, or both."