Skip to main content

#BringBackOurGirls Inspires Email Scam

Credit: Yvette Fitland

(Image credit: Yvette Fitland)

Lazy online scammers piggybacking on big news events is nothing new, and the latest international situation has become yet another vehicle for the callous to prey on the gullible.

The #BringBackOurGirls hashtag, aimed at rescuing the more 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by an Islamist extremist group, has been making waves on Twtitter. If you see a shoddily written email about it, though, it's probably just an attempt to part you from your money.

Security blogger Conrad Longmore, who blogs as Dynamoo, came across the offending email, of which the subject line reads "#BringBackOurGirls." The email comes from one "Joy Marcus," who uses a Gmail address, but in the body of the email, the scribe claims that her name is Mary Sambo and directs users to a Yahoo email address instead.

MORE: 13 Security and Privacy Tips for the Truly Paranoid

That discrepancy should be a red flag right away, but if not, users need only read on to discover the grammatical errors and logical inconsistencies in Sambo's story. Sambo claims her daughters were among those kidnapped by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, and that the same group murdered her husband. She is now apparently seven months pregnant and staying in a church hostel with 30 other women.

Needless to say, although the hostel can supposedly provide neither adequate living conditions nor prenatal care, it has a sterling Internet connection and enough bandwidth to track you, personally, down via social media. Sambo asks you to email her to further discuss providing her with money for medical costs.

Of course, Mary Sambo is a fabrication, which the Gmail address's Google+ profile demonstrates. Rather than a photo of a pregnant Nigerian woman, or even a real woman named Joy Marcus, the profile displays a headshot of American model and actress Yvette Fintland.

Providing money to a fictitious Yahoo account is not going to help the kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria — but, to be perfectly clear, neither is uploading a hashtagged photo of yourself on Twitter.

Follow Marshall Honorof @marshallhonorofand on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.