The UK's National Criminal Intelligence Service is warning of a new version of the Nigerian Advanced Fee or 419 fraud which uses bogus versions of legitimate bank Web sites to hook victims.
The NCIS says that West African fraudsters have moved to the Web in a bid to lend added credence to the familiar scam, in which victims are invited to put cash upfront in return for a reward to help move larger sums of money out of the country.
In a new twist, the NCIS says two Canadian citizens recently lost more than $100,000 after being lured to a fake version of a British bank's online service. The bogus site was a faithful replication of the legitimate bank site, but for the additional prefix 'the' in front of the domain name. The site was used to apparently show the transfer of funds in and out of user accounts, luring the victims into handing over larger sums of money.
NCIS says the site has since been shut down and the bank involved has snapped up all similar variations of its own domain name.
Person-to-person payment operator Paypal was one of the first sites to be used by Web spoofing conmen in an unsolicited e-mail scam last December which invited users to enter account details at a bogus site.