Scam Alert

This morning, I received this email —

How are you doing,I hope all is well with you and family. I’m sorry for not informing you earlier about my trip to England for a Seminar,unfortunately, i misplaced my wallet on my way back to the Airport. I had no option but to send you an e-mail because i have no money to call and my phone does not work here.

I need a favor from you because i’m completely stranded and i need you to assist me with a soft loan of $1,450 to sort myself out of this mess and help myself return back home. Fortunately,there are western union and moneygram outlets here in the Airport.

I will appreciate whatever you can help me with and i promise to refund the money back to you as soon as i return. Kindly help me send the money through the closest  moneygram  or western union outlet  to you using my complete details below:

Name :[FRIEND]
Address: 7 Wardour Street London W1F 8ZD
City:London
Country:UK

Please help me to make the transfer as soon it’s convenient for you and once you have it sent, send me the money transfer control number with details used in sending it.

God bless you

/s/[FRIEND]

I checked the email address, and it was my friend’s actual email address. We’d corresponded only a few days ago, so I was sure it was current. The punctuation is bad, but it’s not Nigerian scam bad — and my friend is not the greatest punctuater (and who would be after having his billfold stolen?).

But it just didn’t seem right. The cc: line in the email showed my friend’s own address and not mine, meaning this had been blind copied to other people, who might double up the payment. If he was in an airport, why the need for money? He surely already had his return ticket bought! And why no phone number?

And so I checked with a relative of his in town and learn that, indeed, it’s a scam. Someone had hacked into his Hotmail email account.

Therefore, if you receive a similar email, make a few phone calls. Don’t let the scammers get you. They’re not all bad spellers from Nigeria.

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7 Responses

  1. Hmmm, scam, eh? Maybe that explains why the folks at Who’s Who addressed my nomination notice e-mail to “Dear Professional” … or why there a couple dozen firms who are convinced that I need to enhance my bustline even though they address their missives to Keith.

  2. I received the identical email about six months ago, also truly from my friend’s phone which had been “stolen.” I wrote back for confirmation, asking for the friend’s wife’s name, her employer’s name and my avocation alongside being an attorney. Of course I got no response and shortly heard from my client saying all his “Mailbox” people had received the email as well. We cannot be too vigilent!

  3. While traveling on I-85 in South Carolina recently, my husband, son and I were approached at a service station by a nice looking, well dressed young man with a similar, almost convincing story. He appeared to be very sincere, but something didn’t ring quite true. We did not respond to his request for help, and as we drove away, he got out of his car and cursed us violently, confirming our suspicion that he was not what he appeared. It is distressing to have to be so wary in the interest of safety.

  4. Online scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated. It has reached a point where you cannot trust the source of anything you read online unless you confirm it offline. Certainly, I would not send money to anyone who contacted me through an unsolicited email without first verifying offline that it is legitimate.

    It used to be sufficient to copy a line or two of the email and paste it into the search box at Google (in quotes) to see if it shows up at snopes.com or at some other scam alert site. But in this case the only search result is this blog.

  5. In this case, the scammer hacked my friend’s Hotmail account, changed the password and password hint, and then sent the email to all his contacts using his actual email account.

    Hotmail restored proper ownership once they learned of the theft.

    Getting an email from the actual email address of a friend asking for money is grounds for a phone call to an old friend to be sure. Unless the friend is your own kid who is in college. Then it’s entirely normal, expected behavior. But call anyway …

  6. Password hints and other types of challenge questions are generally a very bad idea. Generally the answers can be found through other means (mother’s maiden name, city where you went to high school, name of your favorite pet…) Much better to put a fake, nonsense answer for those questions. (eg. Mother’s maiden name: “busily hiccup” etc.) Of course then you need to remember the fake answer — which is probably harder to do than remembering the original password.

  7. yes this happend to me today. the person placed an job ad and used my email address to get hold of me> I think this is sick!!

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