Violence in Libya exploited by email scammers

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Outbreaks of violence in Libya between the-powers-that-be and groups opposed to Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi are causing many people to flee the country for safer shores.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, as they make a habit of stalking misery, scammers aren’t being slow to take advantage of the breaking news story.

Here’s an email we intercepted in our labs, claiming to come from someone who has escaped the country and is willing to exchange his family’s riches for assistance:

Libyan crisis email scam

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My Dearest in God,
I just escaped and arrived RSA from Libya. It was not easy.
I have the family oil recourses for charity Kindly open the link below.
[Link to video news report] For all info, Reply now
<email address>

(My assumption is that “RSA” stands for the Republic of South Africa, rather than the security firm.)

In an attempt to make the story more credible (or perhaps pull on more heartstrings), the email links to a genuine video news report of the worsening situation in Libya.

Libya news report video

Of course, if you reply to this email correspondent chances are that you will be fed a tall story, claiming that riches could be yours if you assist a stranger far away in their hour of need. Scams like this typically involve the victim sending over their personal information (such as bank account details and photocopies of their passport) or an advance fee, in the hope that they will be sent large sums of money in return.

Scams like this are common place. If you wish to help refugees fleeing from Libya, the best thing you can do is donate to well-known charitable groups, not strangers who take advantage of sad stories in their email spams.

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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