You get a desperate email from a friend or acquaintance. It’s urgent. They say they were overseas and got mugged, getting robbed of their cellphone and all their cash and credit cards. Now they’re stranded and need your help. Could you please wire over $900 immediately?
Here’s one I got recently:
This had to come in a hurry and it has left me in a devastating state. I’m in a terrible situation and I’m really going to need your urgent help. Some days ago,unannounced,I came to visit a resort here in London England,but I got mugged by some hoodlums and lost all my cash and bank credit cards, I’m financially stranded right now and my return flight leaves in few hours time but I need some money to clear some bills, I didn’t bring my cell phone along since I didn’t get to roam them before coming over. So all I can do now is pay cash and get out of here quickly.I do not want to make a scene of this which is why I did not call my house,this is embarrassing enough.I was wondering if you could loan me some cash, I’ll refund it to you as soon as I arrive home just need to clear my Hotel bills and get the next plane home, As soon as I get home I’ll refund it immediately. Write me so I can let you know how to send it
Yep, it’s a scam, and in recent weeks there seems to have been an uptick. The fraudsters hack people’s email accounts and then send out the SOS to their entire contact lists.
Rob Cockerham at Cockeyed actually emailed back one of these scammers, who had taken control of “Theodore’s” account, to see where it would go:
The guys at Western Union said I need a phone number to transfer the money. Do you have one you can use?
This time, they wrote back with a new name:
Oh dear, Glad to hear back from you, thank you so much, It has really been embarrassing for me. $2,000 will cover all my expenses, I promise to refund it to you as soon as I arrive home. You can wire it to my name and hotel address here from any western union outlet around. Here are the details you need to get it to me –
272, Coriander Avenue, Docklands, E14 2AA ,
London United Kingdom
+44 702 402 8619
The hotel accepts cash payment only…It is with profound sense of sadness i wrote that email to you. I don’t know how you will find this but you just have to forgive me for not telling you before leaving…
As soon as you are done sending the money, please get back to me with the payment details…The hotel’s telephone lines have been disconnected due to some technical problems, I hope things work out with it soon. I have access to only emails for now…
Await your response as i have missed my flight, but rescheduled it
Obviously a total scamjob. Learn to spot and ignore phishing attempts. Don’t use the same password at every site. Scan your computer periodically for viruses and malware. Use strong passwords and change them every so often. And anytime anyone asks you to use Western Union, it’s invariably a scam.
Your Friend didn’t get Mugged in London [Cockeyed]