01-25-2006, 03:37 PM
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Email scammers target Harry Potter movie hopefuls
... can you believe these people?
After years of ripping off gullible computer users who crave quick and easy wealth, the criminals behind the old Nigerian e-mail scam have moved on to even more vulnerable targets -- children who are nuts for Harry Potter.
In the latest variation of a traditional e-mail fraud, spammers, claiming to be from the movie studio Warner Bros. have been deluging inboxes around the world, including those in Canada, with offers for acting roles in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
But there's a catch.
In order to be selected for filming you must pay a tuition fee, which in some e-mails, is listed as much as $3,830.
The offer is a fraud, says Warner Bros., which is not behind the e-mail and is trying to track down the culprits, who may be linked to similar scams that offer a percentage of hoarded wealth from foreign countries in return for a small fee.
The studio has warned youngsters about the scam on its official Harry Potter website, and is hoping that fans of the best-selling books and films are savvy enough to realize that the studio is a long way away from filming the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth instalment of the series by author J.K. Rowling.
Filming for the fifth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is slated for next month .
But that fact hasn't stopped many curious children from inquiring.
The legal team for Warner Bros. in Burbank, Calif., recently received an e-mail from a boy in the Philippines, who sent photos of himself along with questions about the authenticity of the offer.
The studio's anti-piracy technicians are getting about 10 e-mails a week from children trying to land a spot as an extra at Hogwarts School, Warner Bros. says.
The studio has sent cease-and-desist e-mails to the scam artists and contacted police in the U.K., which is where the fraudsters are asking people to mail the money.
However, British authorities have not yet heard from any victims, and say they won't investigate until they do.
It's also not clear how the fraud artists plan to profit from their ploy; the mailing address listed in the e-mail is the same as the mailing address for Warner Bros. offices in London, so any envelopes that arrive filled with money and an application for a part would be sent back.
Still, the studio is worried about potential victims and is asking anyone who has been tricked to contact Warner Bros. lawyer Kate Chilton in Burbank, Calif., at 818-954-6845 or by e-mail at Kate.Chilton@warnerbros.com.
But sometimes when the Springtime comes and sifting moonlight falls, they'll think again of this night here and of these old brown walls. Of white old well and of Old South, with bell's deep booming tone, they'll think again of Chapel Hill and, thinking, come back home.