back to article MI5 undercover spies: People are falsely claiming to be us

British spook hive MI5 has taken the unusual step of placing a front-page warning on its website about a financial scam carried out by people pretending to be spies or the agency's director general. The online alert was prominently posted on, and occupies more space than the UK security threat level indicator, which …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Tom 38

    MI5 have a logo?

    1. Psyx

      Yes, but GCHQ's is cooler.

      1. Shannon Jacobs

        Logo doesn't matter, but the warning is good and should be widespread

        The spammers are glad to abuse ANY organization's or company's credibility if they think it might help them con one more sucker. However, in the spam I see, most of the fake references are to the American FBI or various agencies of the United Nations. There are a scattering that point at news websites, and even some that point at Wikipedia, which strikes me as a target with especially high credibility. Hey, if the spam cites Wikipedia, it must be true, right?


        I think that all such websites should immediately add a warning with appropriate links to any webpages cited by the spammers. If the potential suckers are systematically routed AWAY from the spammers, that will hurt their business models--and making money is the ONLY think the spammers are interested in.

        I'm not saying we can convert such sociopaths into decent human beings. I'm saying we need to break their business models in every possible way. If they can't find suckers with money, then they will crawl under less visible rocks.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've worked for them for years, underpaid and over worked and never given recognition for the stuff I've done.

      And I'm happy to keep it that way.

    3. Anonymous (Noel) Coward

      MI5 is outsourcing ?

      I might have fallen for the scam and sent the buggers $15,000 if "Sir Jonathan" had not had a heavy "Oh my very goodness gracious, there is an elephant in my vindaloo!" accent.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone knows the real secret organization is MI7.

    1. sabba

      MI7 and three-quarters

      are even more secret!!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So secret it even has its own page on Wikipedia.

    3. Euripides Pants

      Silly goose, the Real secret organization is MI-4REAL!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    They should fight back!

    If people claim to be them, they should turn the roles around. By becoming anonymous for example, that will teach them! ;-)

    * Become anonymous

    * Something

    * Profit!

    Success guaranteed.

  4. thesykes

    What? MI5 don't have a Nigerian branch office?

    1. Simon Harris

      Err - wouldn't that be MI6 ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        When I was at university, I was once approached by a secretive man. He wouldn't tell me exactly what he wanted, but he kept asking me strange questions about flat-pack furniture and grilling me on my knowledge of cheap kitchen units.

        Eventually I realised that he was trying to get me to join MFI.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          When I was at university, I was once approached by a secretive man. He wouldn't tell me exactly what he wanted, but he kept asking me strange questions about Mormon "religion". Eventually I realised that he was trying to get me to suck his cook. We all have bad memories from university too, and M15 would not have helped him, I think.

    2. KBeee

      Course they do. Station A in Abuja.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Is Nigeria still at it? I thought they turned legit and started a stock exchange to fleece people out of their money. No more having to send pictures of yourself with a melon on your head and getting Janet Street Porters face tatoo'd on your arse just to get a cheque.

        Hillarious that they are pretending to be MI5 now, not people to piss off unless you want their friends to take you on a surprise holiday to their Romanian chateau. What does the email say? Since the Tories got elected our budgets got slashed, you can adopt a spook for just 20p a day?

    3. NightFox

      You've got to feel for Sir Jonathan Evans, all this on the very same day that he tells me his uncle has been killed in a car crash...

  5. Xamol


    I was going to put a pedant comment in about the incorrect quote but it turns out I can't be much of a pedant 'cause I can't really be arsed.

    1. ukgnome

      Re: Quotes

      You will never get on in these forums with an attitude like that.

      1. Xamol

        Re: Quotes


  6. JimmyPage Silver badge

    I've fallen victim to this scam

    The caller identifies themselves, and then tells about a system called "government" which you have to pay into, and you can get the most fabulous prizes. They then threaten that if you don't pay them, they'll lock you up.

    Despite me sending off over £15,000 last year, I haven't seen a bean.

  7. Steve Knox

    "...the warning is not specific and therefore difficult to act upon..." !?

    How much more specific does it need to be? The only "acting upon" we need to do is to not give money to people claiming to be from MI5.

    The only way the supposed lack of specificity would make it more difficult is if one regularly receives legitimate financial requests from heretofore unknown MI5 operatives by phone or e-mail, thus having need for information to distinguish the legitimate requests from the illegitimate ones. Does this happen to you? If so, I would suggest you visit (a) the police, to give them the details of all of the requests, (b) a library or dictionary website to research the meaning of "legitimate", and for good measure (c) a psychiatrist to diagnose a set of delusions whose symptoms include believing that MI5 agents would regularly ask you for money.

  8. John H Woods Silver badge

    Liar's Paradox

    "Hi, I'm from MI5"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Liar's Paradox

      I am too...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Liar's Paradox

        I'm spartacus.

  9. DayDragon

    Bad English?

    "If you receive such a communication, please do not respond to it and report it to the police."

    Anyone else think this is bad English?

    I know they probably mean report the scam to the Police and don't send the scammers any money but to me it seems to read "don't tell the police and don't send any money to the scammers"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bad English?

      Since the police won't do anything about it anyway, it could be correct either way.

      1. dssf

        Re: Bad English?


        I, too, was going to comment. I was going to suggest:

        "Please do not respond to it. However, report it to the police."

        That unassailably removes all doubt.

        But, in the name of economy, Western Haiku, and authoritarian language, all too many directives or instructions hurt my brain when I parse them as I I were a lawyer looking to help a client weasle out a corner though crafty exploitation of misplaced commas, missing commas/comma splices, faulty sentence structure.... Usually written by the brightest in society, hehehe...

        A shcool... Umm, school I walk by every few days has posted on one of its doors a similarly grammatically confusing message to parents, something about not parking in the street and somesuch. I'll have to photograph the note. It would have been handy had I done so just 3 days ago... Sigh...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bad English?

      > "If you receive such a communication, please do not respond to it and report it to the police."

      > Anyone else think this is bad English?

      No because the word 'nor' is used to make explicit the meaning you are suggesting: "If you receive such a communication, please do not respond to it nor report it to the police."

  10. dotdavid

    I've often wondered

    ...why some of these terror organisations don't rebrand themselves as well-known counter-terrorist ones. It would cause much confusion.

    "A bomb exploded earlier today near a crowded mosque in Pakistan. MI6 have claimed responsibility for the attack"

    1. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: I've often wondered

      ..why some of these terror organisations don't rebrand themselves. It would cause much confusion.

      Jemaah Islamiya. (In Indonesia). The phrase is both the name of an organisation, and a simple descriptive phrase.

      Imagine a terrorist group called "The Christian Church". It's not specifically branded as anti-terrorist, but yes, it does cause confusion. The police and government would say things like:

      / "The Christion Church" is a terrorist organisation that must be stopped/

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I took this advice

    And didn't pay them

    I got home today to find the debt collectors taking my kitchen!


  12. Don Jefe


    Wasn't there a movie about something like this that had Bill Pullman playing the fake spy?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cunning plan

    I'm from MI6, can you give me money?

    Yes, take this coded message to the bank and they will give you the dosh.

    T362 H982 I980 S776 M555 A987 N212 I535 S599 A777 C004 N434 U897 T125

    1. Loggie

      Re: Cunning plan

      That's not a very nice thing to say..

      1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

        Re: Cunning plan

        "That's not a very nice thing to say.."

        Why? The guy was king of Denmark, England, Norway and Sweden, after all...

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Cunning plan

      and don't be sexist! It could be a woman!

      Wasn't U897 that movie where Bon Jovi stole an enigma machine and won the Boer war for America.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    419 v MI5, tier 1

    and they ripped their logo two?! They're DOOMED!!!

    Dear Col X,

    I am a director of the MI5, carently on vaction in the Orkney Ilands and I got robbed by thos Scandinavian pirates. Please, I besech you, do NOT send any mony, but DO send me [the bankers / the politicians / the press / delete as appropriate] to help me get out of this f... hole.

    Eternally oyurs,

    Ivan Al-shakya

    Head of MI6

  15. Schultz

    Substantial Threat

    So this full-page threat advisory puts the UK security threat level corner nicely into context.

    I always wondered how serious a 'Serious' terrorist thread threat really is (apart from seriously threatening some career when the shit does hit the fan). Just some percent (real-estate wise) as serious as subclass MI5 of a Nigerian 911 spam, it appears. Thanks for the clarification!

  16. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Tell me about it

    On this side of the pond, every year around April 15, some dodgy outfit starts begging me for money.

  17. bag o' spanners


    brrrring brrrrring!..."I can't reveal my identity, or who I work for, but if you don't send me large bundles of used fifties, there's a sports holdall with your name on it"!

    (later) brrrring brrrring!... "Isn't it about time you got dressed and made your way to the bank?"!

    (later still) brrrring brrrring!.... "Don't say I didn't warn you"!

    I returned home about 5:30 pm this evening to find my dead housekeeper neatly folded up in a sports bag in the bath. The answerphone volume appeared to have been set to "off". A tragic, but very preventable accident has occurred.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's really the CIA

    The CIA are short of funds due to the sequestration issue. They may be behind this!

  19. Clyde

    state security

    This just gives us an insight into the rest of what these security types are telling us all the time.

    If a bog-standard spam causes such a fuss that it tops the MI5 website, that insinuates that every other warning they issue is LESS important ...........

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like