Everyone gets ridiculous spam emails – updates from the Mexican Dental Association, requests for contributions to the ‘Save the Hungarian Ferret’ Fund and, of course, the ubiquitous Viagra sales pitch. But the worst of them is the Nigerian ‘You are in the will of a dead King’ scam.

To most of us, it is a no-brainer to hit the Junk/Delete button, but thousands of people still get fleeced. And now the Nigerian scammers (which sometimes are actually in Romania) have infiltrated Facebook and are hijacking users’ accounts to request money by posing as friends in need.

Australian Karina Wells received a Facebook message from a friend, Adrian, saying he was stranded in Nigeria and needed her to lend him $500 for a ticket home.

Wells says Adrian’s English was what she expected from her friend, but this ‘Adrian’ used words such as ‘cell’ instead of ‘mobile phone’, making her suspicious.

“Naturally I was concerned as, to all intents and purposes, this seemed to be legitimate. I pretended that I would help, obtained all the details of where he was and forwarded them to both Facebook and the relevant authorities.”

Experts believe the fraudster obtained her friend’s login details through a password-stealing virus, spread through malware.

“Only a small percentage of users have been affected by recent spam attacks. We are updating our security systems,” a Facebook spokesman claims.