Bad Luck Facebook Scammer, You Picked A Target Who Reads Consumerist

When some lowlife tried to scam Andy the other day through his friend’s hijacked Gmail account, Andy tried to get him to use PayPal, and he came up with a great reason why. “It’s the fastest way to send money,” Andy told the scammer. “Once I deposit the funds, you can print it out of any color printer and it’s real money!” Another reader was so amused by it that she decided to use it on her own Facebook scammer earlier today.

Liz writes,

I just read your article today ( and was very amused.

Then, I’m on facebook tonight, and a girl I am friends with from High School, who I haven’t actually talked to in years, IM’s me. Very surprising.

FakeKate hey there
FakeKate how are you

Liz hi! doing good. :-):-)

FakeKate i’m in some kind of deep shit right now

Liz oh?

FakeKate i’m stranded in london

Liz oh really.

FakeKate got mugged at gun point last night

Liz that’s terrible! how can I help?

FakeKate all cash,credit card and phone was stolen
FakeKate my return flight leaves in few hours but having troubles sorting out the hotel bills
FakeKate wondering if you could loan me some few $$ to sort out the hotel bills and also take a cab to the airport

Liz well, first, call the american embassy. their number in london is 0-11-44-207-894-0007
Liz they will loan money to americans.

FakeKate yes, i have talked to the consulate over the phone but its taking them time and process to get me help

Liz well, they have a 24-7 number here in the US 202-324-3000. you can even call collect! isn’t that super convenient?
Liz so what are you doing in london?

FakeKate well i had to visit a resort in london on vacation and i was robbed at the park close to the hotel where i lodged

Liz oh, what hotel?
Liz i can look it up on trip advisor and write a bad review since apparently it’s in an area where people are getting robbed!

FakeKate D-Next Hotel

Liz hmm, I’m not familiar with that hotel.
Liz Well, how can I help????

FakeKate my return flight leaves in few hours but having troubles sorting out the hotel bills
FakeKate wondering if you could loan me some few $$ to sort out the hotel bills and also take a cab to the airport

Liz Do you want me to wire you a lot of cash?

FakeKate well all i need to get on a plane back home now is $900

Liz Well, that is all? I was thinking you’d need more money to get back to the US!
Liz What airport are you flying out of?

FakeKate Heathrow

Liz And where are you flying to?
Liz What flight are you on?
Liz I’m sure my mom can come get you at the airport after all you’ve been through!

FakeKate Chicago O’Hare International Airport

Liz Not Midway?
Liz That’s a lot closer to your house!
Liz Well gosh, let’s not nitpick. Let’s get you home safely!

FakeKate how long can you get the money wire?

Liz what about paypal?
Liz or

FakeKate you can send it via western union directly to my name as i receive the few i have on me right now, you can even do it online at
FakeKate ??

Liz oh?
Liz what about paypal?

FakeKate no

Liz that is the fastest way to send money
Liz once I deposit the funds, you can print it out of any color printer and its real money!

FakeKate you can send it via western union directly to my name as i receive the few i have on me right now, you can even do it online at

Liz hmm, I really think paypal is better!
Liz they even have fraud protection.

FakeKate Kate [redacted]
FakeKate 81 Kentish Town Road, London, NW1 9QB United Kingdom.
FakeKate that’s the details you need

Liz isn’t that the Alsham Restaurant??
Liz Why are you at a restaurant if you need to catch a plane?
Liz I’m so confused! Help me Kate!
Liz Are you there?
Liz How much money do you need?
Liz I should call your husband, right?
Liz You’re not cheating on him are you?????
Liz He works for the government, so I know he’d be upset and know how to find you!
Liz While you’re waiting, here’s a really interesting article I recommend:
Liz Now excuse me, I have some FBI contacts that I need to email about how you’ve broken into FakeKate‘s account.

FakeKate is no longer online. The following was not sent:

Liz Thanks for giving me the address, now they can find you more easily.

We think everyone should try to talk scammers into using PayPal with that pitch:

PayPal – Once I deposit the funds, you can print it out of any color printer and it’s real money!


Edit Your Comment

  1. halcyondays says:

    The only she failed to do was to get the scammer to send a picture holding a ‘419’ sign over his/her head.

  2. tape says:

    Ha. I had this happen to me a couple of months ago. I got a facebook IM message early on Sunday morning from the girl who sits in the cube next to mine at work. Same sob story, too: mugged in London “last night”, needed me to wire money.

    Of course, I happened to know that she had a certain set of plans for Saturday night which pretty much excluded the possibility of her being in London at that time, barring parallel universes or some such silliness.

    I strung them along for as long as I could bear it, which was not quite as long as our hero of the post.

    • docrice says:

      @tape: Rule 1: don’t loan money to parallel-universe copies of your friends. They are most likely bastards and will scam you. Unless of course your real friends are scamming bastards, in which case you have a better chance of getting your money back by loaning it to their parallel selves…

      …isn’t fake science fun?

  3. SabreDC says:

    I love how Liz gave the FBI phone number as the embassy. “Hello? Can you help me, I’ve been mugged.” “Ah yes, we’ve been tracking you for months. Thanks for calling.”

  4. Charlotte Rae's Web says:


  5. Shappie says:


  6. floraposte says:

    Liz, I like you. You’re funny.

  7. Meathamper says:

    @SabreDC: Will do.

  8. Who wants chowdah?? says:

    CRAZY! This was JUST TONIGHT happening to a friend of mine on FB. This is fucked up.

  9. crutnacker says:

    Now if only this person could have hooked FakeKate up with a car warranty company this would have been golden!

  10. Who wants chowdah?? says:

    How does someone “hack” into someones account???

    • TheFlameCrow says:

      @Who wants chowdah??: Keyloggers, spoofing the FaceBook site, spoofing an account e-mail, etc? I’m more familiar with World of Warcraft accounts being stolen, but I’m sure the methods are the relatively the same.

      • Wombatish says:

        @theflamecrow: Technically those are all scams.

        A hack would be more like brute-forcing a specific account or a specific set of accounts.

        It’s a nitpick, but it always bothers me.

    • Alexander Saites says:

      @Who wants chowdah??: Usually, one of three methods.

      Brute Force: Trying a very large number of username/password combination until one hits. This is usually prevented by the website, as it’s easy to notice. But it’s useful for other purposes.

      Personal: The hacker is targeting a person he or she know, allowing them to guess at security questions. By using this method, one usually attempts to gain access to email accounts first, then to others.

      Social Engineering: Quite a few things can fall into this category, and it’s usually the most effective. In the context of this particular scam, someone could have made a fake Facebook site and convinced someone to enter their credentials within it. It is also a very common method used to obtain online banking and credit card information. That’s why you should always check the URL before typing in your sensitive information.

    • dark_inchworm says:

      Let’s get this nitpicking out of the way: Phishing, social engineering, hacking, malware, etc. all fall under Bad Shit Happening.

  11. Sebastian Krywult says:

    now thats funny

  12. Anonymous says:

    This just happened to me tonight. I got rid of them by asking a really personal question that the person they were impersonating would only know. The only thing is, they de-friended the account of my friend immediately after. Not sure how to fix that.

  13. sardonicbastard says:

    So I just had an idea. Why not create a system that sends phishing-style emails to the scammers, asking for personal information for the western union transfer? Use their own tactics against them!

  14. RodAox says:

    These types of things remind me of the saga when a scammer gets scammed out of money by a highly orchestrated global effort…..if you got time then read the saga of PPPPPPPPower Book! []

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      @RodAox: Thanks for the great read! I have to say though it was bittersweet in that the principal counter-scammer fell off the face of the net in the end. Hopefully not detained for mail fraud or, worse, by affiliates of the person(s) he gave the P-P-Powerbook to.

  15. tenners says:

    I’m not sure how it happens, but the same thing happened last week to my cousin’s fiancee. She sent a message to everyone saying “He is NOT in London, do NOT send money to get him back home, it’s a SCAM!!” Man, what’s going on??

  16. OnThe$20Coin_GitEmSteveDave says:

    Hrmmmm, I wonder if we can get this facebooker to cross paths with the FaceBook SkipTracer. They are both looking for money, and have about the same grasp of the English language.

    I personally would send an image of a spider. You can print it out and it’s Better than money. Or promise to send some US $20 coins and perhaps a few $200 bills. Or tell them you will send them a check for $1800.00, and they can keep 900, and they give you the extra 900. That way you each owe each other 900, so it’s a wash.

    But seriously, the false concern and “helpfullness”, were just all flavors of awesome.

  17. twophrasebark says:

    This might sound too obvious, but why can’t Western Union just create a system where you report these scammers, they are given fake information and told to pick up their money.

    And then they are arrested.

    Too easy?

    • Chris Walters says:

      @twophrasebark: Maybe because Western Union makes money off of how things work now, and that other crazy scheme you’ve cooked up sounds like it would just cost money…

      • YOXIM says:

        @Chris Walters: There is also one fatal flaw within that idea. What’s to stop Person A from reporting Person B as a scammer, even though Person B isn’t actually a scammer? The system is ripe for misuse and abuse. Western Union would need a little more than an anonymous tip to have a random person arrested and hauled off to jail. The whole thing would be a giant and unnecessary vulnerability.

        Besides, like you said, they’re making money with the things being the way they are, so why change it if it works? If it ain’t broke, (and as far as WU is concerned, it ain’t), don’t fix it.

        • trujunglist says:


          It’s not really a fatal flaw at all. If there is a known scammer with traceable e-mails/chat logs/whatevers, then that particular case gets sent to the FBI division created to specifically scam the scammers into getting arrested. The FBI does an investigation, and then works with WU to set the scammer up. The FBI get the scammer, and WU gets some sort of reward for helping. All the employee has to do is take as much time as it usually takes to get the damn money anyway; there’s not even a stall tactic needed while the cops are called. Seems like a simple system to me that takes the control/responsibility away from WU and gives it all to the FBI.

    • magnoliasouth says:

      @twophrasebark: There’s a lot of investigation that would have to go into that, but the FBI could certainly do it.

      The problem is setting up accounts on the FBI side and waiting to be hijacked. There is no way to bait someone to hijack your account, unlike baiting pedophiles, which is incredibly easy.

    • vladthepaler says:


      It’s not in Western Union’s (financial) best interest to do such a thing. Status quo, they collect a fee on all money wired to scammers. Less scamming = less profit.

      Also, imagine the consumerist article if Western Union implemented what you’re suggesting and misued it. “My uncle was stranded in Nigeria after falling for a 419 scam, I wired him $3000 so he could get home, and Western Union had him arrested. He’s now being held in a Nigerian jail awaiting extradition. Western Union gave my uncle AIDS” etc etc.

    • Tiber says:

      @twophrasebark: They actually do that. I reported a fake check from a Craigslist scam, and suggested that, and a cop told me himself.

      The problem is many of those people are in Nigeria, which poses a slight jurisdiction problem. It ends up that pursuing it is not worth the effort.

      Really, I think the government should force them to tighten their standards on receiving the money. For instance, no more being able to receive the money anywhere. The money must be received within a certain distance of the location it was sent. ID should be required, and employees must be trained to spot fake IDs.

  18. Ray C. He says:

    Make sure you report the scammer as they may have other phished account. Check out [] to put a stop to it.

  19. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Should have offered to send a “P-P-P-Powerbook” instead.

  20. Liz Elverson Pelloso says:

    So I’m the Liz that posted this story. I am glad you are all amused!

    I did email both my friend Kate and also Facebook abuse about the situation. They have a report button specifically for 419 scams.

    My husband was the one looking up the numbers for the embassy and the FBI for me while I was stringing the scammer along, so he should get some of the credit.

    Also, the scammer “unfriended” me from Kate’s account as soon as they realized what was going on. That wasn’t very nice of that scammer!

  21. TakingItSeriously is a Technopile says:

    Nice work Liz … very amusing :)

  22. slinky22 says:

    Consumerist Comedy Gold! Liz is my new hero.

  23. bbbco says:

    I got this same exact story from a networking contact that I am friends with on Facebook. I had not heard this pitch before, and I did not know whether he had been out of the country or not. But I was wary, and there were quite a few things that didn’t add up… like why would you be on Facebook after just getting robbed? Why not try to contact those who are closest to you for help? Where is there a good resort in London?

    Yeah, so I was quite a bit skeptical when I got this run-around. Though I did not get as far as the request to send money via Western Union. I began being skeptical a bit too early…

  24. shibainu33 says:

    This happened to a friend of mine. He actually sent them money!!! Oi! Luckily, since Western Union apparently doesn’t send money to London during the evening hours, I was able to tell him about the SCAM (as seen here on Consumerist) and he stopped the wire from going through.

  25. RonDiaz says:

    PayPal would probably reach into your bank account and give the scammer the money just for you saying that…man I hate Paypal. Good job not getting scammed though!

  26. maxx22 says:

    Note that the address is useless. Funds can be picked up in any Western Union, any place in the world showing an ID. Frequently, there is a secret question and answer.

    Interesting question: – If she lost all her ID’s, how can she prove to Western Union who she is.

    Ebay recommends in large print never to send money by Western Union.

    There is no way to track it; no way to find out who picked it up; no way to get it back.

    However, if you do insist on using Western Union, I have this uncle who works in a bank in Nigeria . . .

  27. riverstyxxx says:

    Liz rocks :)
    You know, if you string them along just right, you can actually get the scammers to send you money. Ive also heard of people who collect bogus checks from nigerians as their hobby. Imagine having a scrapbook and adding to it over the course of 10 years, it would so belong in a museum :P

  28. sublicon says:

    What’s funny is I also got a scam attempt like this, from an old classmate named Kate who I hadn’t spoken to in years…I wonder if Liz and I know each other, haha.

  29. korybing says:

    How many people who AREN’T scammers actually use money wires nowadays? I can’t remember the last time I had to deal with a money wire from a legitimate source.

    • floraposte says:

      @korybing: I think there’s a fair bit of “wiring money back home” still for people with family out of the country. But between people who don’t know each other? Not so much.

  30. theblackdog says:

    This is why for my overseas trip, I have given a code word to two people who are my emergency contacts. The only way they’re going to send any money to me is to demand the code word and have me answer it correctly.

    • nybiker says:

      @theblackdog: I like the idea. Might I suggest an enhancement: Give them a “good to transfer” AND a “Do not Transfer” code word/phrase. That way if you’re forced against your will to contact them you can give them the bad code and your contacts will know you’re in deep doo-doo and will contact the appropriate authorities.
      May you not have any problems on your trip. Send us all some postcards (maybe via the Friday Flickr updates?).

  31. Gizmosmonster says:

    The clerk at Western Union would not take my Aunt’s money when her new online “boyfriend” needed an emergency ticket out of Nigeria. She thought he was in london…

    They told her that too many women of a certain age were getting scammed, so the owner of the place decided to violate the agreement he had with the money transfer people.

    Turns out, it was a scam. She would have lost $2500.

  32. William English IV says:

    oh man, this is almost TEXTBOOK to how it happened to my friend. her account got jacked. almost fell for it too, except for the western union part. .

  33. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Pure win.

  34. MyDarlin says:

    That was so funny Liz! Good job!

  35. PLATTWORX says:

    Oh, I LOVE YOU KATE!!! Laughing my butt off..WELL DONE!

  36. banmojo says:

    Bravo Liz, bravo to Liz’s husband, and bravo to all of you who are smart enough to read Consumerist and keep up to date on the scams going on all around us. ‘A fool and his money’ – Consumerists are NOT fools!!

  37. Anonymous says:

    I got one from someone and I got rid of them, too, by asking personal questions.
    I responded to their status (about being stranded in London) that it was a scam, but they deleted the comment almost immediately.
    I blocked their account, then put a general message out to all of our mutual friends that it was a scam. Since they were blocked, they coudln’t do anything about the notice.

  38. SuperShawn says:

    You should have said “perfect timing! I have a case of $millions in Nigerian currency I need to sneak out of the country. If you can help me cover the shipping (send cashiers check or cash ASAP, you will never have to travel on a train or commercial aircraft again- we will be rich!”

    My opinion…if you fall for it once, you basically “paid for a lesson you needed to learn”. If it happens again, your computer license should be revoked.