The emails claim that Chase Manhattan's online division is conducting a survey of its users, and will credit the accounts of those who take part with $20.
In reality the emails were not sent by the bank, and they direct unwary surfers to a bogus website which attempts to steal usernames, passwords and other confidential information from them.
According to security firm Sophos, the emails are a variant of the commonly-encountered "Letter from Nigeria" scams, also known as 419 Advanced Fee Fraud. These cons try to fool innocent users into believing that a large amount of money will be transferred into their bank account, but are really designed to steal information about the user's identity and bank account, or demand a "handling fee" for the money transfer.
"Email scammers are always looking for new ways to fleece the unwary, and this time they have come up with a new twist: asking people to help in a survey for a cash reward," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Internet users who bank online need to be wary of these kinds of tricks, and display caution on any website where personal information is demanded, or risk ending up penniless."
"It's important to realize that Chase Manhattan has done nothing wrong. Scammers are posing as this well known bank because it is an established and well-trusted name, and they hope it will encourage victims to hand over their credentials," added Cluley.