Everyone in Emily Szymborski’s e-mail address book received the e-mail, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She was robbed Nigeria and needed help: $1,800 wired via Western Union, to be exact. The message came from the Milwaukee woman’s Yahoo e-mail account this summer. When the e-mail was sent, she was working on her laptop at home. Szymborski, 26, tried to log in to her Yahoo account to check things out, but her password didn’t work. Her e-mail account had been hijacked. she has no idea how.
Szymborski is one of a large but unknown number of computer users targeted by online scammers each year. In 2006, the FBI’s Internet crime division received 207,492 complaints. Szymborski insists she never answered one of those common inquiries from an “African prince” wanting to share a cool fortune, if only she would forward her bank account and personal e-mail information. The Milwaukee office of the U.S. Secret Service it couldn’t investigate because no one had actually fallen for the scam and sent money. Secret Service agent Bill Frantzen called scams in which hackers swipe someone’s e-mail password “crimes of the future.”