One of the oldest email scams in the book is still one of the best

A single successful scammer launched a distributed network called “Scattered Canary,” and now he’s sitting back and relaxing as the scams continue.


June 6, 2019

An email fraud scheme launched by a single guy in Nigeria more than a decade ago has expanded into a successful, 35-person business called “Scattered Canary,” Axios reports.

As other types of fraud have become increasingly complex, Scattered Canary kept it simple, relying on basic email extortion — and it’s worked spectacularly well.

A Canary takes flight

Scattered Canary’s founder “Alpha” started running Craigslist email scams with a partner named “Omega” in 2008, and committed scams averaging $24k per month on Craigslist.

But after diversifying to romance scams in 2010, Alpha decided to build out the business by hiring employees to assist in the scams.

A slow-and-steady type of scam

Although complex security breaches often get more press, email-based scams are still the most financially damaging type of fraud: In 2018, they cost 20k businesses more than $1.3B.

The scams may be simple, but the groups behind them are getting complex: Scattered Canary spent years “pivoting to enterprises,” and now it scams large institutions like the IRS, FEMA, and USPS.

As for “Alpha?” According to the report, today he is engaged and has 3 daughters. Ahhhh, the perks of management…

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