At the start of this month, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei was arrested in Vancouver at the request of US authorities.
Meng Wanzhou faces extradition to the United States on the charge that Huawei used a shell company to access the Iran market, in contravention of US sanctions.
The arrest made headline news around the world – with many speculating on its impact on current US-China trade negotiations, or suggesting that Western technology leaders might be wise to avoid visiting China in case they faced tit-for-tat reprisals.
And, of course, it was hard for the media not to once again raise the concerns of some Western countries that Huawei might not be the ideal business to build 5G mobile networks because of alleged links to the Chinese government.
(For its part, Huawei continues to deny claims that Beijing views Huawei as a way to spy upon the communications of Western governments and companies.)
All serious stuff!
So I, for one, was bemused to see a report from Johannes Ullrich about how scammers have tried to exploit the situation – sending messages through the WeChat that the wealthy Meng Wanzhou needed a few thousand dollars bribe a corrupt Canadian guarding her cell.
According to the ISC SANS blog, the message translates as:
“Hello, I am MENG Wanzhou. Currently, I have been detained by Canadian customs. I have limited use of my phone. Right now CIA is trying to get me into the hands of the US government. I bribed the guard of my room, and urgently need US$2000 to get out of here. Once I am out, I will reward you 200,000 shares of Huawei. I will be good on my word. if you are single, we can also discuss the important thing in life. The guard’s name is David, the account number is 52836153836252, swift 55789034. I will be good on my word”
Yes, not only could you be rewarded with 200,000 Huawei shares, but – if you send Ms Meng a meagre two thousand bucks – it also sounds as if she’s open to potentially having a personal relationship with you!
There’s bad news for the scammers though. Meng Wanzhou has now been released on bail.
At least that’s what we’re being told. Who is to say that she hasn’t had so many people send her thousands of dollars that she’s been able to bribe the judge as well as her prison guard?
For more discussion of this topic, be sure to listen to this episode of the “Smashing Security” podcast: