I was more than a little amused at a 419 message of the “I’ve been hired to assassinate you” sub-category to which my ESET Ireland colleague Urban Schrott drew my attention, so I wrote it up in an article for SC Magazine’s Cybercrime Corner: 419, or mere horseplay?
Except that for its own inscrutable reasons, SC Magazine didn’t include most of the links, which some (especially those less ancient than myself) may find slightly confusing: so here’s a little explanatory text.
- James Bond/SMERSH: if your acquaintanceship with James Bond is limited to the movies, you may be unaware that a fictionalized version of SMERSH (a real Russian counter-intelligence agency that was wound up in 1946) plays a significant part in the very early novels. Oddly enough, a lot of commentary on this 419 misses the fact that SMERSH and SPECTRE (a purely fictional criminal organization) are by no means the same thing, though there seems to be a cetain amount of traffic from one to the other in terms of personnel. A bit like the AV industry…
- The Beatles (and of course, Henry the Horse dances the waltz): I’m assuming the naming of the horse in the 419 message may have been influenced by ‘Being for the benefit of Mr Kite’, from the Sergeant Pepper album.
- The Russian Empress Catherine the Great was said (quite untruthfully) have died as a result of a somewhat over-intimate relationship with a horse.
- (La Femme) Nikita: a film and subsequent TV series about an assassin.
- The somewhat Saintly Toodle Pip!: if your knowledge of The Saint is restricted to one or more TV series or maybe a movie or two, you may not be aware of the period charm of the earlier books, which were very much of their time – the very long series began in the 1920s. Of course, while Simon Templar may have inclined sometime to the amoral, assassination wasn’t really his thing.
- I don’t suppose many people are unaware of Bertie Wooster, whether through TV or Wodehouse’s books.
- Letitia Teaspoon is, admittedly, a somewhat more obscure creation. She got a mention by virtue of a similarity of the name Dai Teatime. And is even now giggling girlishly in the next office.
- The scam-baiter forum mentioned in the article is this one.
- The reference to Spike and Buffy is, of course, to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Conan the Barbarian is no doubt well known, if only as a pseudonym for a former governor of California, and Doc Ock will be known to anyone with the faintest interest in Spiderman.
- I’d never heard of Kraken D’Waggin, but I figured a Google search for the scammer’s name was going to turn up some kind of pop-culture reference, and I wasn’t disappointed.
And I’m afraid that if you want to know what all this has to do with 419s, you’re going to need to read the SC Magazine article. And no, I don’t intend to add glossaries and appendices to all my future blogs. It’s just security, not rocket science. Or even The Wasteland.
David Harley CITP FBCS CISSP
ESET Senior Research Fellow