Money laundering or 419 spam

SophosLabs regularly sees spam relating to “money processing” jobs. Typically, these spam emails contain phrases like

  • import/export business
  • making payments
  • receive  *% of each payment
  • looking for representatives in USA/Australia/Canada/UK

The person sending you the spam will either steal your money/identity directly or set you up to have money stolen in the near future while laundering your money.

SophosLabs has recently been made aware of a scam that has all the hallmarks of this type of spam. I will be anonymising the names involved here – the victim will be Mr A and the conman and his associates will be Mr B etc.

Mr A posted to an online classified site looking for an apartment in New York. Mr B contacted him via the classified site saying that he had an apartment in New York that Mr A could use BUT would need Mr A’s help accessing money from clients in the US. Mr B then explained how Mr A could help. Mr B’s client Mr C would mail Mr A a check and Mr A was to cash that check and send it to Mr B via a money transfer agency.

This happened for a few days until Mr A got suspicious and contacted Mr B for confirmation of Mr C’s identity. Mr A then got a message from his bank saying that the checks had been suspended.

  • What was happening here? Mr B was using Mr A to launder money.
  • What should Mr A do? Talk to his lawyer and report all details to the police.

Mr A has unwittingly participated in mail fraud and/or money laundering.

Remember that if ‘something looks too good to be true then it probably is’ and on the internet this maxim applies double.