By Nicholas Johnston
As we've covered extensively on the MessageLabs Intelligence blog, 419 or advance fee fraud scammers are skilled at using current events in their scams. In the past we've seen scams relating to earthquakes in Japan and Haiti, and scams relating to the recent unrest in Egypt and Libya.
We recently saw a 419 scam claiming to be from Christine Lagarde, the newly-appointed director of the IMF (International Monetary Fund). The scam follows the usual 419 or advance fee fraud pattern. The scammer claims to be Christine Lagarde, and is releasing all "intercepted consignments" in celebration of her appointment. The catch (or "Rule and Obligation", as the mail puts it) is that to get one of these mysterious consignments, you have to pay a fee of $45 to the IMF in Benin. Of course, this $45 will simply be the first of many increasingly-inventive fees and charges that the scammer demands.
The message was sent through a popular web-based email service from an IP address in Benin. It contains a skewed or distorted version of the IMF logo, and as usual for most 419 or advance fee fraud scams, looks amateurish and unprofessional:
We expect to see more 419 or advance fee fraud scams relating to current events in future.
To avoid falling victim to a 419 or advance fee fraud scam, remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you receive an email claiming you've won the lottery, if you haven't bought a ticket, then you haven't won.