n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - : the changing face of cybercrime e-mail spam scams

Special Edition 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The technical definition for 'phishing' is that type of online identity theft that employs an approach to a potential victim via an e-mail in order to steal both a recipient's personal identity data and financial account credentials. In effect these e-mails are false ('spoofed') designed to lead a recipient/s to counterfeit websites that aim to trick them into divulging financial data such as account usernames and passwords. This information then used in various cybercrime activities Over the years these e-mail scams have exhibited a changing and more innovative approach from winning lotto 'millions', verifying your banking details on an exact bank replica website to receiving a 'greeting' e-card from a family friend, 'school-mate', colleague or even 'partner' which requires you to click on an Internet address and copy and paste it (the greeting e-card) into your browser's address box (this enables 'spyware' to be inserted on your computer). In this article, the different types / categories of 'cybercrime' are firstly defined to, secondly, contextualise e-mail scams / frauds; and thirdly, to track the changes to the latter and to point out some of the mistakes that enable one to identify it as a 'phishing' e-mail scam. Finally, a number of security countermeasures are postulated that individuals and companies can implement to protect themselves not only from phishing but also from other forms of cybercrime.

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