Security experts today reported a "sharp increase" in the amount of spam email offering 'romantic' contacts.
Sophos warned that such emails can have a number of aims, including confirming that an email address is active and thus more attractive to spammers.
More sinisterly, such spam can lead to a confidence trick that sees the recipient build up a 'relationship' with their new electronic friend and ultimately hand over money or personal information.
An example of a spammed email message claiming to come from 'pretty young women' reads as follows:
'Hello my dear friend
I was looking through the web few weeks ago and found your profile. Now I decided to email you to get to know you better. I am coming to your country in few weeks and thought may be we can meet each other. I am pretty looking girl. I am 25. Do not reply to this email address directly. Email me back at [email address removed].'
"Some people need a reality check and should ask themselves whether it is really likely that an unknown young woman would see them on the web and be moved to make contact," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.
"And even if they were, would this be the sane behaviour of anyone you would ever want to meet?
"If you do reply to a message like this, the danger is that you will not just be confirming that your email address is 'live', but you could also be pulled into a circle of deception designed to separate you from the contents of your wallet."
Sophos noted that the email addresses used to contact the supposed author of the message are, in some cases, the same as known spam sites selling pharmaceutical products.
"There is more medical and pharmaceutical related spam than any other kind, so it is no surprise to see that some spammers may be using the lure of pretty young women to hook the unwary," added Cluley.
Volume of 'romantic' spam jumps sharply
By Robert Jaques on Aug 23, 2006 10:13AM