Even phishers watch daytime TV

Opinion by Dan Raywood

Thankfully I am rarely ill and, because of that, don't often get the chance to 'enjoy' daytime TV.

Thankfully I am rarely ill and, because of that, don't often get the chance to 'enjoy' daytime TV.

In previous lives, I have had a chance to enjoy the likes of Countdown and Deal or No Deal, but these have been undone by the low-standard programming pumped out by terrestrial channels and adverts for no-win, no-fee legal services.

Among these productions is Heir Hunters, not a Discovery channel special on Nazi hunters, but a BBC programme "following the work of probate detectives looking for distant relatives of people who have died without making a will".

Now proof has emerged that the elderly, unemployed and undergraduates are not the only ones watching such shows, as phishing emails claiming to be messages from the producers have been detected.

The scammer says they came across the recipient "while searching through [a] genealogy database" and asks them to respond with their contact details to ensure that it corresponds with the information "we have [in] our database in order to enable us to carry out necessary verification processes and to get your claim across to you without any delay".

According to Sophos, the emails even include a link to an online episode of the TV show via the BBC's iPlayer in an attempt to make the message seem more legitimate. This has led to the BBC putting a message on its website which says "beware of emails claiming to be from Heir Hunters".

It warns: “We have been informed that someone has been sending out emails purporting to come from the Heir Hunters programme and referring to this website. Please be aware that these emails have no connection with the BBC or Flame Television, the makers of Heir Hunters, and you should ignore them.

“You should not reply to them and if you believe that persons are attempting to deceive you with a view to monetary gain, then you should contact the police.”

Sophos's senior technology consultant, Graham Cluley, says the BBC's advice is sensible. “If you believe you could be the beneficiary of the assets of a deceased person who didn't make a will, or died with no known heirs, then you could do a lot worse than visit the Government's Bona Vacantia website,” he advises.

If you think about this, it is a mean but clever tactic. The spammer is hitting a potentially vulnerable target who are likely to respond to the opportunity as they are familiar with the brand and are unlikely to question a tactic as niche as this.

That said, being aware of spelling mistakes and the validity of the sender is no bad thing, because the BBC prides itself on not making spelling or grammatical mistakes. Now, where did I put my Homes Under The Hammer box set?


Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Upcoming Events