A new twist on an old scam has emerged - using a highly unlikely name in order to part the unwary from their money. This version of the scam claims to be from Sir Mervyn King, the previous Governor of the Bank of England.
The scam (see screengrab at end of article) claims to be an email originating from the business networking site, LinkedIn. Aside from the unusual choice of fake sender, the scam follows a familiar pattern - it's a twist on the oldest phishing scam in the book - the Nigerian 419 scam.
Mervyn, the scammers claim, is in a bit of a jam. He has 206 million euros in his bank account which has "no beneficiary avowing to claims". He is apparently confiding in the recipient: "With the hope that you can be trusted."
'Mervyn's' plan is to switch the money out of his account and into the recipient's bank, at which point "we shall split in the ratio of 60% for me, 40% for you." He requests that if you can help him, you email him direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unfortunately for these less-than-subtle scammers, the mail ended up with journalist Fabrizio Goria, who shared the image on Twitter and it has since gone viral.
It's safe to assume that anyone who emails this address will receive instructions to hand over large sums of cash (possibly positioned as fees that need to be paid or as a sign of trust), or they'll be made to send their account details on the pretext of making the transfer. Then the scammers will take the money and run
Of course, there are a number of glaring giveaways that this is a scam. The language is all over the place, including phrases like "I will be pleased if you can be of help and trust to handle this", and "I work with Bank of England".
Then there's the fact that email address is simply set up in the name of Sir Mervyn - which is just a little on the informal side for the new Baron of Lothbury. And finally, there's the enormous sum of cash that Sir Mervyn has apparently built up in his bank account. He may be an economist, but 206 million euros smacks of some fairly impressive investment decisions over the years by this public servant - who earned around £300,000 a year as the head of the bank.
The obvious nature of this scam could come as a surprise, but as we reported last week, it's actually entirely intentional. The idea is that it costs the scammers very little in terms of time and energy to send these phishing emails in the first place. The time-consuming stage is replying to everyone who contacts them as a result, and trying to extort money out of them.
The idea of this scam, therefore, and others like it, is to be very obviously fake. That way the only people who will respond are the very unsophisticated, who are unlikely to wise up to the scam even when asked to send money or personal details. In other words: they only want replies from people who are so easy to fool that they will fall for an obvious scam - and the only way to do that is to make it an obvious scam in the first place.
If you receive this email, then as ever, the best response is to ignore it entirely - any other approach will alert the scammers to the fact that yours is a real email address and will encourage them to send you more.
And if someone you know is at risk of falling prey to this sort of scam, warn them that this new twist on the old Nigerian prince scam is doing the rounds, and needs to be avoided at all costs.
Screengrab from @fgoria
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