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Is it Spam? A 419 Scam Moves to Skype

I recently received a Skype contact invitation from a Benjamin Debrah that seemed to be a 419  scam, also known as an advanced fee fraud. I hadn't seen scams on Skype until now so I decided to probe a bit. 

Skype419

419imagesearchI grabbed the image of the alleged Barclay's employee in Ghana and used Google image search to find a match to the kindly looking elderly gentleman. Unsurprisingly, I came up with  email scam alerts at scamwarners.com and romancescam.com, several likely bogus LinkedIn profiles in Ghana and UK, and the likely real name of the innocent victim associated with the photo used by the fraudster (Robert Ritch).

The scam message, while stylized or personalized somewhat, in all cases laments the passing of a relative in "a deadly earthquake that occurred on May 12, 2008 in Sicilian province of China" (I kid you not).  Or March 2011 in Japan. Ah, it was the Sichuan province. In all cases, the fraudster is trying to elicit your response. If you do respond, he'll discuss arrangements for transferring the funds, but will likely ask for a fee in advance to complete the transfer arrangements. If you were to send funds to the fraudster, perhaps through a money wire, you would in all likelihood never hear from him again. The fee in advance is what the fraudster hopes to earn through his efforts.

What should you do if you receive scam or fraud contacts or requests in Skype?

  1. Do not accept the contact or engage in a chat or call with anyone you suspect may be attempting to scam you.
  2. Block the contact.
  3. Report the contact to Skype. According to this page, "The Skype Name of the blocked person is stored by us once they are reported for abuse, but the content, such as IM messages or the contact request itself, is not."
  4. In the US, you can contact the FBI. You can of course join grass roots efforts and contact any of the scam reporting sites like those I've mentioned earlier.

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