Israeli & Global News
419 spammers use Holocaust to boost credibility
Dan Ilett
October 01, 2004, 17:40 BST
Experts say a 419 email scam from the Czech Republic uses legitimate
organisations and Holocaust victims to strengthen its case
A spammer has bombarded at least 75,000 inboxes with an email scam that
offers recipients a share of $35m (£19.5m) from a World War II Holocaust
victim’s bank account, experts say.
In what appears to be similar to a Nigerian 419 scam, the fraudster has used
legitimate organisations to plead his case. The supposed author, Ronald
Lauder, said he was a member of Swiss organisation the Independent Committee
of Eminent Persons (ICEP), which he said tracked down bank accounts that
have been dormant since 1945.
The ICEP appears to exist, but at the time of writing, its Web site was
In his email, ‘Lauder’ explained that the victim left no will or relatives,
so by Swiss law, it was possible to claim the money.
The email stated: “I discovered a dormant account of ORDNER ADELE with a
credit balance of 35,000,000 US dollar [sic] plus accumulated interest. The
beneficiary was murdered during the holocaust era, leaving no WILL and no
possible records for trace of heirs. Being a top executive at ICEP, I have
all secret details and necessary contacts for claim of the funds without any
hitch. Due to the sensitive nature of my job, I need a foreigner to HELP
claim the funds.”
“Kindly provide me with your full name, address, and telephone/fax. I will
pay all required fees to ensure that the fund is transferred to a secure,
numbered account in your name in the Cayman Island, of which you will be
capable of accessing the funds gradually and transferring to your country
and other banks of choice in the world. My share will be 60 percent and your
share is 40 percent of the total amount. THERE IS NO RISK INVOLVED.”
In the last week, anti-spam firm BlackSpider said it had seen 75,000 copies
of the email. The message was traced back to a Czech email server called:, said the company.
“It’s better than most scams, which are badly written and misspelled,” said
John Cheney, CEO of BlackSpider Technologies. “I would suggest that the
take-up is high or it wouldn’t happen. But the technology for sending this
is pretty basic.”
According to BlackSpider, six percent of the spam it sees is fraud-related.
Cheney added that the email was like a cross between a scam and a phishing
To back up his claim, the spammer also provided Web links to legitimate
sites including the Holocaust Victim Assets’ Litigation Web site and the
International Commission on Holocaust Insurance Claims Web site.
“Thievery is bad enough, but doing it under the cloak of helping Holocaust
victims, I really don’t have the words for,” said Richard Starnes, president
of the Information Systems Security Association UK. “They are using
apparently legitimate companies to add credence to their deceit.”
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