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Nigerian 419 Email Scammers Shift to Malware and Hacking

Some of the same folks behind the Nigeria 419 email scam are apparently switching to more sophisticated cyberfraud tactics.

Remember those ubiquitous, grammatically challenged emails promising you a huge sum of money if you helped a wealthy foreigner extract his multimillion-dollar fortune from his homeland? Well, some of the same folks behind that world-famous Nigeria 419 scam (the number refers to the section of the Nigerian criminal code dealing with fraud, though not all the emails originated from that country) have apparently moved up in the cybercrime world. A new report this week from network security company Palo Alto Networks says individuals who previously operated 419 scams from Nigeria have begun launching slightly more sophisticated attacks using malware and learning new tactics on Internet hacking forums. The goal is to get the recipient to click on an email attachment so the hackers can take control of the recipient’s computer and steal passwords and other personal data that they can use for financial gain.

In the past, the main target of Nigerian scammers has been wealthy, unsuspecting individuals, but recent attacks indicate they are now targeting businesses. “This represents an emerging threat for many businesses,” the report concludes.

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— James Eng, NBC News