New trick adopted by spammers to harvest email addresses

IT security firm Sophos has warned computer users to think before forwarding chain letters after discovering a new scam being used by spammers to collect email addresses.

A spammed email campaign, seen by Sophos, poses as a research project into chain mail and joke messages that are frequently sent between email users around the world. Chain letters and jokes can easily be sent to a person’s full contact list or an entire company department, resulting in all the valid email addresses of everyone who received the message being contained in the body of the message.

The new spam campaign asks for chain letters to be forwarded to the spammers (who are posing as a researcher called Gemma). However, Sophos warns that rather than conducting a study of chain letters, the recipients are actually planning to gather innocent peoples’ contact details for the purposes of spam and identity theft.

Part of the spammed email reads as follows:
‘I would be very grateful if you would be kind enough to forward absolutely anything and everything that remotely resembles chain mail, forwards of any type (even the rude ones). This project is based over the next year and I need at least 500,000 forwards for this project to be a success, so please keep them coming the more the

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