Fraudsters forced to move to Skype after mobile crackdown.
Russian cybercriminals are using Skype to extort money in a manner similar to the Nigerian prince scams, says security firm Kaspersky.
Hackers hijack accounts belonging to friends or family of the victim and pretend to need an emergency loan while travelling, but provide details to their own bank accounts and steal victims’ money.
Dmitry Bestuzhev, a cyber threats researcher at Kaspersky, said: "It’s impossible to say how many people fall victim to this kind of social engineering fraud, but in general we know that social engineering is an effective trick for scammers."
Nigerian fraudsters posing as royalty via email have attracted infamy for so-called 419 scams, named after the relevant penal code in the country, but such tactics have been employed worldwide.
According to Kaspersky a similar scam was formerly conducted in Russia via text message until recently, but mobile operators have taken action against the fraud and forced criminals to try new tactics.
"The cybercriminals stole my contact’s password, probably using password stealing malware," Bestuzhev added. "Suddenly, even a Skype account without any money attached is worth something to a crook."