Enter the maze

New twists on old favourites

Mouse Crime

New computer technology has allowed criminals to indulge in old favourites like fraud, but on a massive scale. A classic example of this is when you receive an email from someone unknown who has a tragic story about how they have access to millions of pounds, and they need to secretly remove it from a particular country because they are under surveillance. All you need to do is send them your bank details and they will transfer the money to your account and give you half of it. Too good to be true? Of course it is, but the fact that thousands of these fake emails can be sent every day means that just once of twice some poor recipient will give the details, and the criminals can now steal that persons identity and money. This has extended to scams where people are told they have won a lottery they never entered, or receive an email supposedly from their bank saying that they need all the customers personals details again 'just to check the system'.

In fact this kind of computer fraud has been recognized by the ig Nobel prize panel: a kind of spoof of the real Nobel prizes that aim to make people both laugh and think about research, science and technology. The prizes are for "achievements that cannot or should not be reproduced." and the Nigerian scammers won theirs for their contribution to literature! The full citation is: "The Internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for creating and then using e-mail to distribute a bold series of short stories, thus introducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters - General Sani Abacha, Mrs. Mariam Sanni Abacha, Barrister Jon A Mbeki Esq., and others - each of whom requires just a small amount of expense money so as to obtain access to the great wealth to which they are entitled and which they would like to share with the kind person who assists them."