MySpace user stung for £130,000 in email scam

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

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Minutes after blogging about the Canadian guy who has lost his friends and family a tidy sum after falling for an email scam, Clu-blog reader @MerseyMal tipped me off about a similar story affecting a British MySpace user.

Shane Symington lost over £130,000 after being contacted by a woman based in Nigeria via MySpace. The two struck up a friendship in the summer of 2007, and after a while the woman began to ask for money to help her sick mother.

The woman eventually told the 32-year-old postman from Southsea, Hampshire, that her mother had died and asked for his help in paying for her funeral.

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And this is where the story gets particularly sad. It transpired that the Nigerian woman was in fact a man, who had been lying to obtain money from Symington. Symington then began to receive further emails, claiming to be from other victims and even from individuals who claimed they were FBI agents investigating the case.

The “FBI agents” told Symington that they would investigate his case if he would fund their trip to Nigeria, and any subsequent costs they incurred. Astonishingly, Symington agreed.

“This is a very sad situation, and this man has now parted with a huge sums of money through his own good nature – in trying to help others and then to recover some of what he had lost,” said Hampshire detective Jon Knox. “We do not want anyone else to fall foul of this kind of shocking activity and I would warn anyone who is asked for money over the internet by people they do not know to refuse, and not put yourself at risk.”

You can read more about the case in The Metro newspaper today.

I wonder if people will ever learn that just because a message arrives on your computer screen in an attractive font it doesn’t necessarily mean it is to be believed. The scammers, the hackers and the spammers are all looking for potential victims on Web 2.0 websites like MySpace, Twitter and Facebook.

Stay smart, and make sure you don’t become their next victim.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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