Facebook Attracts Nigerian Scammers Posing As African Friends

Facebook users are being warned about a new type of cyber conmen operating on the popular social networking website who try to extract money from users by hijacking users accounts and asking for money.

Their modus operandi include emailing the friends of the victim asking for money to pay for a ticket back home. Karina Wells from Google Australia was one target but she managed her way out after her supposed friend started to use Americanised expressions like Cellphones (rather than mobile phone).

And according to the Sydney Morning Herald, Ms Wells tricked the criminal long enough into waiting before finally providing Facebook with the lead, effectively using social engineering in the reverse direction.

It is highly likely that the Nigerian scammer got hold of Ms well's friend details through a Trojan horse which infected the victim's computer and may have infected other genuine Facebook friends.

Sophos Security Expert, Graham Cluley, advised Facebook users to be very careful about giving out their personal details and adding Friends to their Facebook list plus in Cluley own words "be wary of messages with unusual demands - just because they come from a 'friend' doesn't make them legitimate."

And because Facebook (and indeed other social networks) operate their own email inboxes (and messaging services), emails sent from within Facebook (from a compromised account) are less likely to be viewed with suspicion.

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Picture Courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald depicting Google Employee Karina Wells, who uncovered this Facebook scam

Criminals often use subterfuges or social engineering tricks to encourage victims to install Trojan horses disguised as genuine applications

Facebook is only five years old and has already attracted more than 120 million active users worldwide; making it a very popular targets amongst criminals