Diplomat held at JFK airport with a lot of cash – a convoluted Nigerian email scam

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
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Email scams often take various forms – but typically they will claim that you have the chance to pick up millions of dollars (perhaps from Mrs Gaddafi, or a non-existent lottery, or a serviceman who has stumbled across a fortune while despots flee the country).

Victims are tricked into handing over money in advance (this is why it’s caused advance fee fraud) in the hope of receiving their supposed fortune. All they end up with, however, is a large hole in their bank account.

The following email scam that I came across takes a rather different approach.

Here’s a summary of the story that the email tries to sell you:

1. Police stopped a female diplomat at JFK airport, who was found to carrying a package to your doorstep.

2. The woman didn’t know what the contents of the package were – but it turns out it was a “huge amount of money”.

3. The diplomat is being detained until the police determine how the fortune came to be yours.

4. The police would like you to contact the person who asked the diplomat to take the money to you (they handily provide a Gmail address, an AOL address, and a Nigerian telephone number), as apparently if you forward a certificate from them the money will be released.

5. But if you *don’t* send the certificate…

Read more in my article on the Naked Security website.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the cybersecurity industry, having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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