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That E-Mail Message May Not Be From Your Friend

It’s getting to the point where you can’t even trust e-mail messages from your friends – or perhaps I should say messages that appear to be from your friends.

Malware that collects e-mail addresses from victim’s address books has been around a while now and it was often used to spread malware from one victim to another. E-mail addresses are also being harvested to use in clever scams where cybercrooks pretend to be someone’s friend who needs help.

In a recent news story from Georgia, a businessman’s computer was infected with malware that siphoned e-mail addresses from his e-mail program’s address book. When the cybercrooks got their hands on the e-mail addresses, they sent e-mail messages to the businessman’s friends that were made to look like they were coming from the businessman himself.

The criminals concocted a scam in which the e-mails being sent to the businessman’s contacts claimed that the businessman was in London, England and had become the victim of a robbery and was in need of money so he could fly home.

The scam tried to convince the potential victims to wire money to cover the cost of the airplane ticket. Luckily, the businessman’s friends recognized the scam for what it was and although one of them almost fell for it, he decided to call the businessman by phone instead of simply wiring the money as requested, and as a result, he learned that he was almost the victim of a scam.

I guess we all need to be suspicious of anyone who is e-mailing us and asking for money – even if it looks like it is e-mail that is coming from a friend. As the old saying goes, “Trust but verify.”

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