Thousands of messages are circulating purporting to be from a U.S. Army sergeant based in Baghdad attempting to fool recipients of the email into taking part in a bogus business deal.
The emails, which claim to come from Sgt. Richard Murphy, offer 50 percent of a claimed $15 million fortune. The message echoes the plot of the George Clooney Persian Gulf War movie "Three Kings," the tale of an officer needing help to move the money out of the country.
The emails, which have the subject line "Urgent and Confidential from Sgt. Richard Murphy" start with the following text:
"I hope my email meets you well. I am in need of your assistance. My name is Sgt. Richard Murphy, I am in the military engineering unit here Baghdad, Iraq. We have about $15 Million U.S. dollars that we want to move out of the country. My colleagues and I need a good partner, someone we can trust. This is a risk free and legal business (oil money)."
However, experts warned computer users that the emails are simply a ruse to try and steal money and personal details from respondents.
"With so many scam emails being sent to internet users every day, it's hard to believe that anyone falls for such confidence tricks. However, innocent people risk putting their finances in danger if they correspond with these scammers, and all email users must stay on their guard," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "People need to be careful not to believe everything they receive via email."
This email con-trick is the latest of many 419 scams. These scams are named after the relevant section of the Nigerian penal code where many of the scams originated and are unsolicited emails in which the author offers a large amount of money. Other exams of 419 email scams include a message claiming that that the recipient has inherited a fortune from the will of the late Sir Denis Thatcher, or from a victim of the July terrorist bombings in London.