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Nigerian Scammers Scramble As IRS Deadline Looms

With the U.S. deadline for tax filing approaching, so-called "419 scams" are increasing as Nigerian fraudsters work overtime attempting to trick taxpayers.

"They love to take advantage of tax day," said Michael Lamont of Process Software, which closely tracks the activities of Nigerian scammers. "They use any kind of current event to suck people in." Tax returns are due to be filed April 17.

While the total amount of e-mail scams seems to have flattened in recent months, Lamont said scammers are getting more selective. They aren't just broadcasting millions of messages, but increasingly are targeting events and users directly. The majority of e-mail scams comes from Nigeria, but sometimes Nigerians operating in other nations are involved.

Lamont, a senior software engineer at Process Software, said in an interview that the company monitors the Nigerian 419 scam phenomenon closely through some 2 million Process Software users whose software is equipped to stop the scams. The "419" scams refer to the section of Nigerian law that combats fraud.

Lamont expects the tax scams will build for another year, then peak and flatten as the public becomes more aware of them. Typically, a scammer will inform an e-mail recipient of a tax refund, then seek the recipient's social security number and credit card number.

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