While rebels may have looted one of Muammar Gaddafi’s compounds last week, those looking for a chance at obtaining some of the colonel’s riches don’t necessarily have to go all the way to Libya. Just check your inbox and cross your fingers.
A new scam is circulating on the Web in which a mischief maker under the guise of the fallen Libyan leader’s wife is attempting to extort money using the old Internet throwback commonly referred to as the “Nigerian Letters” ploy. Someone claiming to be Safia Farkash al-Baraasi Gaddafi is spewing messages from an email account announcing that they need to unload several tons of gold and can only make it possible with help from you.
As you might imagine, Mrs. Gaddafi isn’t really the owner of the Gmail account that is sending these pleads en masse, and the likelihood that anyone that lends a hand by way of providing personal information will come into possession of the precious metal is as possible as Col. Gaddafi himself delivering it across the Atlantic on a magical, seafaring condor.
Spammers have long employed these scams to extort the gullible, however, and even online security companies are finding it necessary to warn their customers. Kapersky Labs, a venerable antivirus company with over 300 million users, Tweeted this week that, “No, [Gaddafi’s] wife doesn’t really want to give you money.”
Lucky recipients of the alleged letter are welcome to try to assist in moving the gold, but it will involve the disclosure of some personal details which may or may not turn you into the victim of not just identify theft, but one of the oldest trick’s in the Internet hooligan’s playbook. In the classic “419 scam” that usually comes from a member of Nigerian royalty, the recipient of the email is coerced into helping move funds, but typically after a transaction or transfer fee is handed over to the sender of the email. Of course, these kinds of correspondence almost always don’t end with both parties happy.
If you do manage to receive an email from Mrs. Gaddafi, be advised that, despite her plea, the transaction might not be the best way to rake in the dough, even if she claims it is “100 percent safe on your side.” If you feel real daring though, ask her for the location of the “underground safe” that she lifted the $25.7 million in riches from. The colonel’s got to have some more of those gold necklaces lying around.