Finding Love On Social Networks Proves Costly for Some, According to PandaLabs

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Social Networking Boom Provides Cyber-Crooks with Easy Access to Personal Information on Unsuspecting Targets; Improve Effectiveness of Criminal Love Scams

With so many personal profiles and email addresses in the public domain, people may think it feasible that somebody has seen their photos and has taken a liking to them, making them more susceptible to these kinds of attacks.

PandaLabs, Panda Security's malware analysis and detection laboratory, today announced that it has found rising incidence of a new cyber scam that involves a personalized email sent by someone claiming to have interest in befriending the recipient as a means of initiating a fraudulent request for money. While variations of these scams raised a red flag for intended victims many years ago, the rise of social networks has enabled criminals to better target their messages based on publically available profile data.

According to PandaLabs, victims of the scheme are lured in by a female sender that initiates contact by sending the recipient, typically a male, an email stating that she has seen his profile on a social network and would like to get to know him. Once the recipient is engaged in the correspondence, the sender begins asking questions about his interests, establishing a friendship with the intended victim and informing him of the fact that while she currently lives in Russia or an Eastern European country, she is planning to move to the country where the recipient lives. Each email is accompanied by photographs of the girl in question to help assure the recipient of her existence and the validity of her impending requests.

The next step in this scheme comes just when the girl is about to leave her country to meet her new friend. Last-minute "problems" begin to occur, ranging from holdups with a visa to bribes that need to be paid before she can leave the country. To overcome these obstacles, the girl asks for a small sum of money, never more than $500. Unfortunately for the unsuspecting new-found friend, the girl doesn't actually exist; she is just a device created in order to steal money from gullible victims.

"Some years ago, this type of fraud tended to arouse more suspicions, yet now, with so many people participating in social networks, they have become more plausible," says Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs. "With so many personal profiles and email addresses in the public domain, people may think it feasible that somebody has seen their photos and has taken a liking to them, making them more susceptible to these kinds of attacks."

For additional examples of this and other Internet schemes as well as ways to safeguard from these ploys, visit PandaLabs at http://pandalabs.pandasecurity.com/.

About PandaLabs
Since 1990, its mission has been to detect and eliminate new threats as rapidly as possible to offer our clients maximum security. To do so, PandaLabs has an innovative automated system that analyzes and classifies thousands of new samples a day and returns automatic verdicts (malware or goodware). This system is the basis of collective intelligence, Panda Security's new security model which can even detect malware that has evaded other security solutions.

Currently, 94% of malware detected by PandaLabs is analyzed through this system of collective intelligence. This is complemented through the work of several teams, each specialized in a specific type of malware (viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, phishing, spam, etc), who work 24/7 to provide global coverage. This translates into more secure, simpler and more resource-friendly solutions for clients.

About Panda Security
Panda Security is one of the world's leading IT security providers, with millions of clients across more than 200 countries and products available in 23 languages. Its mission is to develop and provide global solutions to keep clients' IT resources free from the damage inflicted by viruses and other computer threats, at the lowest possible total cost of ownership.

Panda Security proposes a new security model, designed to offer a robust solution to the latest cyber-crime techniques. This is manifest in the performance of the company's technology and products, with detection ratios well above average market standards and most importantly, providing greater security for its clients. For more information and evaluation versions of all Panda Security solutions, visit our website at: http://www.pandasecurity.com.

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Bill Bourdon

Crystal Wiertalla
The Bateman Group
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