Hopefully by now, even the most gullible of computer users know to avoid Nigerian email scams, which offer a cut of a large fortune — usually from a Nigerian prince or deceased distant "relative" — in exchange for an upfront fee.
But what if an email offers a refund for falling victim to one of these Nigerian email scams? And what if all one had to claim these funds was to pay an upfront fee to a trusted member of the Nigerian government?
Researcher Mikko Hypponen from the security firm F-Secure spotted this sneaky new variation on a Nigerian 410 scam. Purporting to be from the "Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nigeria," the phony email informs recipients that Citibank Nigeria is holding "$50.00 each for every scam victims [sic] for monetary loss and damages."
"Take note that we have never held any scam victims compensation program in Nigeria," the message says. "This is the First-Of-Its-Kind. Do not be deceived by anybody, any organization or any Ministry!"
Users who send their names and addresses "for verification" to (what's listed as) Citibank Nigeria will, of course, fall right back in the Nigerian scammers' hands.
The clever email even appeals to users' basic knowledge of Internet security in an attempt to bilk them out of money.
"Please do not respond to any email which asks you to send your username and password for any reason, if you have already done that kindly change your password immediately," the email reads.
See how honest they are? How could this be anything but a legitimate, honest appeal from the Nigerian government to right a wrong and compensate users for the pain and suffering they've caused?
"Don't fall for these scams," Hypponen wrote.
If you receive a similar email, or any unsolicited message offering money in exchange for an upfront fee, do not respond. To proactively protect yourself, make sure you are running up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer.