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.