Computer Crime Research Center

Resources drained by e-mail hoaxes

The old adage that 'a fool and their money are easily parted' is still tempting more and more would-be fraudsters to run e-mail con tricks, such as the notorious Nigerian money scam.

Increasingly we are seeing more and more e-mails--offering us everything from natural Viagra to a share of Bill Gates' fortunes--and those sending them clearly still see a market for their ludicrous scams.

Similarly a second threat from spam e-mail is that posed by hoax virus warnings, which can be as dangerous as genuine viruses once they begin to spread like wildfire through e-mail servers worldwide - taking up important human and computer resources.

Anti-virus firm Sophos has today released a list of the 10 most-common e-mail hoaxes reported during August--some purporting to be virus warnings--others trying to scam users out of their hard-earned, easily lost, cash.

Perhaps the most famous scam, which is number five in the list, is the e-mail from a supposed Nigerian bank worker, or similar, offering a get-rich-quick opportunity to anybody willing to help with the liberation of money from the Nigerian government.

While there are always likely to be some gullible recipients who fall prey to these kinds of offer, a more serious problem caused by these spam mass-mailings is the strain under which they put companies' e-mail servers.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said in a statement: "Hoaxes continue to cause almost as much confusion as real viruses. The multilingual JDBGMGR hoax [number one in the list], which claimed to be an extremely dangerous virus, has been perplexing users ever since it first appeared in May."

A recent report suggested spam e-mail will account for the majority of global e-mail traffic by the end of the year.

Will Sturgeon is a writer for


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