Lebanese lottery scammer arrested in Cyprus

Scammer made $10 million tricking computer users into thinking they have won the lottery

IT security and control firm Sophos reminds computer users about the danger of internet scams following the arrest of a Lebanese man alleged to have defrauded victims out of USD $10 million using email.

According to media reports, Ali Mohamed Kdoud, who Interpol has allegedly been looking for during the last two years, was arrested at Cyprus's Larnaca airport on Thursday this week as he attempted to leave the island. Kdoud has been charged with extorting millions from countless computer users, located around the world. The victims, believing they had won the lottery, handed over confidential and financial information to prove their identities as well as stumped up cash for processing fees. The authorities are reported to be currently holding Kdoud, awaiting extradition papers.

Lotto scams usually take place via email. Messages with subject lines such as "Lucky Winner" notify recipients that they have won a large amount of money. The email often includes a "unique" reference number and a phone number. When contacted, the scammers claim they need to collect information from the victim to ensure the prize is rightfully theirs. The confidential data taken from the victim is then used to drain bank accounts.

"We are seeing more and more scammers like this one be arrested, and it is high time that they pay the price for their greed," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "How many victims must have been conned for this thief to net USD $10 million? Let this serve as a wake up call for all computer users - before you start dreaming of spending the rest of your days lazing on a beach somewhere, make sure you verify all unsolicited emails for authenticity before replying. Otherwise, you might find yourself light in the pockets, not to mention frustrated that you got duped by one of the oldest scams in the book - fraud."

Scams involving email include financial stock, also known as pump and dump, and 419 scams, all of which are designed to steal from the victims. Scams have pretended to come from National Lotto organisations to "Who wants to be a millionaire?" In one case, a single individual was scammed out of US $1.5 million. Some scams have even threatened the recipients with death threats.

About Sophos

Sophos enables enterprises all over the world to secure and control their IT infrastructure. Sophos's network access control, endpoint, web and email solutions simplify security to provide integrated defenses against malware, spyware, intrusions, unwanted applications, spam, policy abuse, data leakage and compliance drift. With over 20 years of experience, Sophos protects over 100 million users in nearly 150 countries with its reliably engineered security solutions and services. Recognized for its high level of customer satisfaction and powerful yet easy-to-use solutions, Sophos has received many industry awards, as well as positive reviews and certifications.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK

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