IT security watchers reported today that '419' scammers have been sending emails that claim to offer details of a cure for AIDS.
The spam, which comes from a Yahoo email address, claims that the '19 year-old correspondent' has found a herbal root that has successfully helped AIDS sufferers to recover.
It also claims that hospitals have confirmed that patients are no longer HIV positive, and goes on to ask for help in bringing the cure to English-speaking markets.
However, security firm Sophos has warned that the emails are a ruse to steal personal details, and that the fraudsters behind the scam could use such information to steal money from bank accounts and commit identity fraud.
"People who receive this email may believe that they are helping the world to fight AIDS, as well as potentially making themselves some money from the proceeds of any distribution of a successful cure," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos.
"However, the scammers are just using another method to try to dupe computer users into divulging sensitive information.
"It's particularly sick of the spammers to exploit human illness in their search for innocent computer users to fleece."
This email con-trick is the latest of many 419 scams named after the relevant section of the penal code in Nigeria where many of the scams originated.
Once a victim has been drawn in, requests are made by the fraudster for private information which may lead to requests for money, stolen identities and financial theft.
Other examples of 419 email scams include a message claiming to come from a persecuted widow of the late Nigerian head of state, an associate of the massacred Nepalese royal family, and even an African astronaut stranded on the Mir space station.
Scam emails promise cure for AIDS
By Robert Jaques on Jul 21, 2006 10:13AM