When a Nigerian 419 scam goes too far

I would think that most of you working in the security industry -- either as an end-user, integrator, vendor, journalist, whatever -- are aware of Nigerian 419 scams...they will tell you any story, as long as you accept their fake cashier's check. (If you don't know about them, you are at risk...make sure you Google it.)

But as I was cleaning out my junk mail box, I came across this Nigerian 419 gem, which really got under my skin. I pasted the whole thing below, but in a nutshell, the e-mailer is claiming to be a U.S. soldier who is holding more than $12 million of what may or may not be Saddam Hussein's vast remaining fortune. And of course, the return address is the almost-but-not-quite-legit "noreply at usarmy.com". Pretty high on the despicable scale, if I do say so myself.

As I said, we, as members of the security industry, are pretty aware of these scams, and our radar is always on alert to potential threats. But if you are a security manager or executive, are you 100-percent positive that nobody in your organization can fall for this type of scheme? And if somebody would fall for this type of -- let's face it -- pretty transparent scam, it probably means that person is vulnerable to the types of phishing attacks that can compromise the business you are protecting.

As we probably all know, awareness is one of the best defenses. Make sure there is nobody that is blissfully unaware in your organization.

And finally, in a world where the federal government can completely shut down something like internationally-based online poker, why is it that I get a minimum of 20 e-mails every week telling me I have won a vast fortune? Priorities, America.


(please feel free to comment in the field below, or you can e-mail me at paul.rothman@cygnus.com).


Here's a copy of the offending e-mail, in case you are interested:

Hi ,

My name is Sgt. David Thompson US ARMY serving the World and my country in the most honorable way i know i can, in IRAQ right now, in a nutshell, I am a American soldier serving in the Military with the Army 3rd infantry division. With a very desperate need for assistance, i found your contact particulars during my email search and picked up courage to contact you for your assistance.

Some money in various currencies were discovered in a room at a farm house near one of Saddam's old palaces in Tikrit-Iraq during a rescue operation, i happened to be one of the soldiers that lead that operation that day, so it was agreed by Brigadia General Edward Ballanco the head of our batallion that some part of this money will be shared among both of us before informing anybody about it since both of us saw the money first. This was quite an illegal thing to do, but I tell you what? No compensation can make up for the risk we have taken with our lives in this hell hole, my brother in-law was killed by a road side bomb just few months ago, and i cannot count how many times GOD has saved my life down here. I would like you to read the below article so you can confirm what i am saying.


Now i found a very reliable way of sending a trunk mettallic box containing the amount of United States Dollars worth Twelve Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars(US$ 12,500 Million) as you must agree with me it has been hell on earth trying to keep this money safe from peoples eyes for all these while and with this opportunity all i need is just someone capable I can trust 100% i can send the box to.

So if you can assure me of your honesty i will go ahead and send the box to you for safe keeping till i am back home and i will gladly give you 50% of the money.

If this okay with you please get back to me with the following so i can get the box accross to you.

1. Your full name
2. Contact address
3. Telephone number.

Waiting to hear from you.

Yours in Service.
Sgt. David Thompson