If you read this site with any regularity, you're well aware that each new day can bring dozens of new, sophisticated online scams created to bilk you out of your personal info and money.
But once in a while, criminals unplug from the conveniences of the modern wired world and employ some decidedly old-fashioned scam techniques.
The security firm Symantec obtained a letter — sent via post — in which a man named Steve Hall, chief auditor of the British-based "Financial and Investment Solutions Ltd," — not a real company — writes that the recipient is the next of kin of a man who died, leaving a $15.5 million fortune.
It's a take on the long-established Nigerian 419 scam, in which cybercriminals, posing as government officials or lawyers, tell recipients they are next in line to receive a substantial fortune and must wire an advance fee to obtain their inheritance.
In this case, all the lucky reader has to do to receive the first payment of $4,650,000 is fax Mr. Hall his phone number. Subsequent correspondence, the letter says, will ask for the inheritor's bank account information.
Although this is a low-tech variation on the theme, Symantec's Mayur Kulkarni says it may work just as well because, hand-delivered, this letter avoids the security defenses — firewalls, anti-malware software, spam filters —that block suspicious emails from reaching your inbox.
In other Nigerian cybercrime news, a new scam — this one via email — is hitting inboxes, trying to solicit gullible victims by promising another multi-million dollar fortune. In this instance, however, the money isn't from a deceased "relative," but from a Nigerian astronaut, Air Force Major Abacha Tunde.
The email tells recipients that Tunde has been stranded at a secret Russian military space station since 1990, and, for a mere $3 million, you can receive the $15 million he's accumulated while stuck in space.