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Cyberscams Have a New Strategy

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Cyberscams Have a New Strategy - While e-mail is still the most common online method used by scam artists to contact potential victims, fraudsters are increasingly turning to Web pages, a category that includes social networks.

Remember the associate of that deposed dictator who needed your help transferring a few million dollars from a Swiss bank account? Well, he's back. And he—or one of his ilk—may show up soon posing as your "friend" on Facebook.

Someone bearing an eerie resemblance to those ubiquitous perpetrators of so-called Nigerian scams ended up in the online social network of Australian citizen "Karina Wells". Earlier this month Wells received a message on Facebook from someone she thought was her real-life friend Adrian. He wrote that he was stranded in Lagos, Nigeria, had no access to a phone, and needed Wells to wire $500 for a plane ticket home. "Adrian" even pleaded for help in a real-time conversation over Facebook's chat service.

Wells didn't buy it. She alerted Australian authorities and Facebook, each of which is conducting an investigation. Although the details have yet to be confirmed, Facebook officials believe someone obtained Adrian's log-in credentials through a "phishing" scheme, luring him to a dummy site where he was asked to enter his Facebook password. The incident was initially reported by the Sydney Morning Herald and later confirmed by BusinessWeek.com.

Wells thwarted the apparent ruse, but officials and security experts warn such scams may become more common in an online world where millions of people interact daily, often sharing intimate details with widening circles of friends.

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