Nigerian scam targets LinkedIn users

Nigerian 419 scam targets users of business-based social networking site says BitDefender

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By  Matt Wade Published  April 23, 2008

Social networks including the business-focused website LinkedIn are the newest medium for Nigerian ‘419' scams, according to researchers at software security company BitDefender.

In the most recent case of this scam, the company stated today, an advance fee fraud is attempted; the same type of scam that BitDefender's team estimates grosses hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

The scam involves an e-mail message that is sent as an invite from LinkedIn, or other social networking sites, inviting a computer user to join a network. A profile page is also established with the social networking site in question to make the claims in the letter appear legitimate. And because the scam's messages are only delivered to a social networking site's user accounts, these tend to by-pass anti-spam mail filters.

Since this type of scam has been identified, BitDefender's team has been collaborating with LinkedIn to address the issue.

"I think this new twist is more dangerous than the old 419 scheme because of the increased chance for network users to fall for the scam," commented BitDefender CTO Bogdan Dumitru. "Since LinkedIn and other social networking sites are used it to build up businesses or careers, users tend to view the invitations as trustworthy."

"On LinkedIn, individuals have full control over their networks," added Kay Luo, LinkedIn's director of corporate communications. "Users decide who to allow into their networks and which introductions to pass along."

As a result of this scam appearing, LinkedIn has also reiterated its best practices for sending and receiving invitations. The first is that users should only accept LinkedIn invitations from people they know and trust, the second is that users should personalise their LinkedIn invitations and messages so that a recipient knows who they are (and if necessary, even remind the person of how they know you).

More information on this scam is available on BitDefender's website.

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