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Also known as “advance fee” and “Nigerian letter” scams, 419 schemes have been around for many years and are surprisingly effective at duping people. residents working in Nigeria or Ghana, asking for money to further their studies, care for sick relatives, or some such sob story.
The schemes themselves violate Section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code, hence the name. More traditionally, these miscreants pretend to be an employee at a Nigerian bank or government institution and claim to need your help in spiriting away millions of dollars.
As it happens, the entire list of users is recoverable from the site using little more than a Web browser.
The first thing I noticed upon viewing the user list was that a majority of this service’s customers had signed up with emails, and appeared to have African-sounding usernames or email addresses.
At issue is a service named “Best Recovery” (recently renamed Private Recovery).
When I first became aware of this business several months ago, I had a difficult time understanding why anyone would pay the to per month fee to use the service, which is visually quite amateurish and kludgy (see screenshot at right).
Logs were indexed and archived each month, and most customers used the service to keep tabs on multiple computers in several countries.
A closer look at the logs revealed that a huge number of the users appear to be Nigerian 419 scammers using computers with Internet addresses in Nigeria.
They are prominent at night parties picking prostitutes at night.“While such an invitation impresses most law-abiding citizens as a laughable hoax, millions of dollars in losses are caused by these schemes annually,” the FBI warns.“Some victims have been lured to Nigeria, where they have been imprisoned against their will along with losing large sums of money.A crude but effective online service that lets users deploy keystroke logging malware and then view the stolen data remotely was hacked recently.The information leaked from that service has revealed a network of several thousand Nigerian email scammers and offers a fascinating glimpse into an entire underground economy that is seldom explored.
They also move in groups of two, three, and four when going to eateries.