Sophos has reminded computer users of the danger of email scams following an attempted financial fraud which posed as a communication from a Christian couple offering their puppy up for adoption.
The emails, which come from a husband and wife who claim to be on a Christian Mission in Africa, say that their Yorkshire Terrier dog is not coping well in the hot weather.
Part of the email, which includes contact phone numbers in Nigeria, reads:
I and my Husband have now decided to give her out on Adoptioto [sic] someone that can give her a good home and take very good care of her. She’s a very loving puppy, she will be a good companion. If you know you can take very good care of her do send me a reply back through my email address below or you can give me a call so we can discuss on phone.
These email con-tricks, known as 419 scams, are named after the relevant section of the Nigerian penal code where many of them originated and are unsolicited emails where the author typically offers a large amount of money. Once a victim has been drawn in, requests are made from the fraudster for private information which may lead to requests for money, stolen identities, and financial theft.
Other examples of 419 email scams include a message claiming to come from a persecuted widow of the late Nigerian head of state, an associate of the massacred Nepalese royal family, and even an African astronaut stranded on the Mir spacestation.