Spam Scam Invokes Princess Diana

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LONDON - Antivirus experts have warned users to beware of a spam e-mail campaign that promises a sizable grant from The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

The fraudulent e-mail messages say the recipient has been selected to receive a grant of 2.6 million British pounds (about $4.5 million in U.S. funds) grant and should contact the organization. However, the e-mail messages do not come from the memorial fund, which was founded in September 1997 soon after Diana's death.

The spam is unusual in the sense that it uses the name of a real charitable fund, plus the name of an actual employee there, according to a warning from security vendor Sophos.

"This is not one that will look phishy," said Carole Theriault, a security consultant with Sophos. "They've obviously done their research before they put it out."

The memorial fund has also issued a warning on its Web site.

Limited Success

Some of the messages contain links to Web sites asking for bank account details, and in some messages recipients are directed to wire funds by Western Union to certain people, the warning said.

The fund has received almost daily calls asking about the legitimacy of the e-mail, and some people are known to have gone through the first few stages of trying to collect a claim before stopping, said Therese Lyras, press and communications coordinator for the fund.

"No one has contacted us to say they have actually sent money," she said.

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