Strange Mail

October 19th, 2009 by Editor B

I got a strange e-mail from an old friend today:

I’m sorry for this odd request because it might get to you too urgent but it’s because of the situation of things right now, I’m sorry for this odd request because it might get to you too urgent but it’s because of the situation of things right now, I’m stuck in london with family right now, we came down here on vacation , we were robbed, Worse of it is that bags, cash and cards and my cell phone was stolen at GUN POINT, it’s such and crazy here in london , i need help flying back home, the authorities are not being 100% supportive but the good thing is we still have our passport but dont have enough money to get on flight ticket back home, please i need you to loan me some money till im back home to pay back , i will refund you as soon as i’m back home, I PROMISE

On first read, my impulse was to help my friend. But I always pause at the prospect of shelling out some cash, and that pause allowed me time to reflect.

It’s all very generic, this plea for help. There are no corroborating details in this message, nothing that proves it’s actually from my friend. (Is she even traveling in London? Well, it’s possible — I don’t know her well enough to keep tabs.) Yes, it’s coming from her e-mail, and it has her signature attached, but that’s not conclusive. Perhaps her account or address book was hacked.

A quick net search on the first line of text revealed that this is indeed a known scam, a phishing scheme of sorts.

So, be careful. Don’t fall for this scam. If a friend asks you for help, pause and ask yourself if it’s really them or just an automated script.

10 Responses to “Strange Mail”

  1. mike Says:

    She got it fixed. I actually gchatted with the scammer for a bit first thing in the AM. It did not ring true (grammar, spelling) but true enough that I had to engage.

  2. Mark Gstohl Says:

    Bart,
    Slip the money under my office door tomorrow morning and I’ll make sure your friend gets it. I have a connection in London!

  3. scott Says:

    If I fell for every email from with friends names on it, i would personally keep Cialis in business. Spam boner fixer emails are everywhere.

  4. David Martin Says:

    Yep, I got that exact same request “from” a former headmaster of my high school over the summer. It rang a bell for me and Google confirmed the scam tactic.

  5. holly Says:

    lol, this was me and I’m just seeing your entry here. The grammar tipped a lot of people off (even at my worst moment– including those of drunken idiocy– I would never write something so badly composed). It is entirely possible that I could have been in London, but as someone who travels a lot my first response in a situation like this would have been to go to the consulate rather than email my vast contacts list. Even so, I accessed my account (simultaneously with the scammer, who was an honest to goodness Nigerian) in time to dissuade two friends who had responded along the lines of “How much do you need and where do I send it?” Mike and my partner both got the scammer chatting and found he was asking for around $800– certainly not a fortune, but more than most people I know can spare right now.

    So yes, ignore these types of pleas. If you receive one and you aren’t sure if it’s real, ask for some personal information. That turns the scammer right off.

  6. pissed off Says:

    the scammers are likely reading this – i got burned on this one today – i responded and they emailed back details and i complied, thinking it was a friend in desperate need – and i usually catch every snopes email and crackpot garbage – this one got me at just the right (wrong) time and i responded quickly

    i hope someone catches those assholes

  7. Harold Nrwood Says:

    I also got this email. I live in Brazil. Yes, it seemed genuine but then I started to think about it.
    1) No one travels long distance to London (or elsewhere) without getting a round trip ticket.
    2) Even if the credit cards were lost they can get a replacemnt from some authorised bank in London. No problem.
    3) the email message did not have my name !

    Harold

  8. Jan Says:

    Hi,
    My cousin had the same email sent “FROM” her email. At first I told her she must have been phished, but it appears that they have taken her password from her email account. Has anyone had this happen to them and if so how did they get the password back. She was using a hotmail acc’t.
    Thanks, we would appreciate info because it is a business address with ALL her business contacts on it.
    Thanks

  9. judy Says:

    I got one of these and it took hours to notify people…sweet to see how many were ready to help! I have to point out, though, that the scammer did more than send the message: he changed the settings on my gmail acct so that ALL my incoming mail went to the fake yahoo address, and mail to me ended up in the trash…that means for 24 hours ANYONE who just wrote to me was compromised!!

  10. judy Says:

    I’m just pointing out that people who get this have to do more than chat with the scammer!!

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