The notorious ‘Nigerian 419′ scam is normally easy to spot since it mostly involves requests for money from supposedly rich individuals in African countries such as Nigeria, from which the fraud gets its name. The latest Facebook attacks are much craftier, because they try to hijack the identities of real people and/or friends known to Facebook members, asking for money for an apparently legitimate cause.
An Australian news site reports that one of Australian Google employees was contacted by a person actually known to her, asking her for $500 dollars to allow him to return back to Australia from Lagos, where he was supposedly stranded. The Google employee became suspicious that the contact was fake only after noticing some irregularities in the fraudster’s use of the Australian accent. The scammer used words such as “cell phone” instead of “mobile phone” as well as other non-familiar Aussie words.
This is just one the latest incidents in an ongoing battle taking place between Facebook users and cybercriminals trying to exploit the site’s members for a financial gain. Emails from social networking sites, such as Facebook, are more likely to reach an individual’s inbox because they come from a trusted domain source. Hijacking such domains to create fake email accounts has been a growing problem on webmail systems such as G-mail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail.