Scammers Take Advantage of Middle East Crisis with Email Cons

egypt spam scammersUnrest in the Middle East is spawning a flood of emails from scammers seeking to fool consumers into sending them money.

Two scams are coming from Egypt, both variations on time-tested themes. In the first, a Mohammed Hammad, claiming to be a "consultant" to the Egyptian Past-President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, asks recipients for help in moving money and investments out of Egypt following recent changes in the country's government.The email could load viruses or tracking software onto the recipient's computer.

Many, but not all, scam letters and emails include misspellings and grammatical errors that should immediately make consumers suspicious. This Egyptian email contains several misspellings in the former Egyptian president's name.

Consumers in Connecticut are among those on the receiving end.

"This example demonstrates how quickly and easily a scammer can craft and deliver a message designed to appeal to the interests and passions of a particular audience," Connecticut Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said in a statement.

"Unwary victims could be convinced to send money or account numbers in hopes of participating in this endeavor, only to be defrauded. Just by opening the link in the email, they might unknowingly make their computers available for looting by data thieves."

The second scam plays on the stranded-friend-or-relative routine, this time asking for money to help get out of an Egypt in crisis.

Consumers who receive these emails should forward them to the Federal Trade Commission's spam database at SPAM@UCE.GOV.

Avoid opening any links inside the email, and once you've forwarded it to the FTC, delete the bogus email from your inbox and your deleted items area.

For more information on spam and phony emails, visit www.ftc.gov/spam.

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