Diving economy triggers rise in money laundering, phishing attacks

21 November 2008

Worsening economic conditions and rising unemployment have triggered a rise in online money laundering scams and phishing attacks, it has been reported.

According to Cnet, so-called "money mule" schemes - where people offered jobs as home-based contractors processing legitimate company rebates are used to launder money between countries - are on the rise, as are other illegal work-related scams.

Figures from security research group the Honeypot Project show that between August and October, when US employment hit a 14-year high, these types of sting rose by 514 percent.

Ryan Sherstobitoff, chief corporate evangelist at online security specialist Panda, said: "The schemes are aimed at people who are desperate in rough times and who are likely to respond as they lose jobs."

The downturn has also prompted a spike in phishing attacks, the site said. In recent months, it noted that fraudsters have targeted customers of banks involved in high-profile takeovers, such as Washington Mutual and Chase, in the hope of taking advantage of any confusion.

Recent figures from MessageLabs indicate that between September and October, the number of recorded phishing attacks rose by 106 percent.

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