Friday, May 28, 2010

Today's e-mail scam: friend asking for money via Western Union

Today, I received the following email from one of the sweetest and nicest workshop students I have ever encountered. The thing is, it was not from her.

Here goes:

I'm writing this with tears in my eyes, 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 United Kingdom right now, i came down here on vacation, i was robbed, worse of it was that bags, cash, cards and my cell phone were stolen off me at GUN POINT, so i only have access to my emails, it was such a crazy and brutal experience for me and i was hurt on my right hand, but i'm glad i still have my life.

I need help flying back home, the authorities are not being 100% supportive, i have been to the embassy and the Police here in London, but they're not helping issues at all, but the good thing is that i still have my passport but don't have enough money to sort the bills and get my flight ticket back home, please i need you to loan me some money, i promise to refund it as soon as I'm back home, you can get it to me through western union.

• • •

She followed up that email up with this after I contacted "her":


Thanks for your quick response I really appreciate it, what i need you to do for me is to loan me $1,550 and i will refund it as soon as i get back home, you can get it to me via western union Money transfer, kindly walk up to any nearby store that operates on western union to send the money. Check for a local WU outlet that is close to you and use my below details to complete the transfer.

Receiver's Name: XXXXXXXX (I deleted it for my friend's privacy)
Location: London, United Kingdom.

So i will be waiting for you to get back to me ASAP with the western union transfer details, as soon as you have it done, you will need to get back to me with the western union MTCN number and other transfer details and total amount sent to enable me pick up the money. As soon as i get back home, i will pay everything back including the transfer charges.
• • •

My first reaction was to help her. She is around 76 and this could have happened to her. Easily. She travels a lot. She is not in the greatest shape.

After talking with some friends who know her, we realized that it was identity theft.

So beware of emails from your "friends" asking for money! Also check the address after the name. In this case, it was not my friend's address.

After her name in the From window was this fake email address:

Be careful,


Joshua James Photography said...

This same exact scam happened to me, only it was over Facebook chat!!!! One of my friends' accounts was compromised and I was actually talking to the scammer (who was obviously just copying and pasting the text and not directly answering my questions).

Anonymous said...

I also had a friend scammed this exact same way via Facebook chat. The scammer even new some about my friend (clearly googled the name as they chatted). Friend did send some money after confirming from Western Union that the person picking up the money would need photo ID. Guess what - Western Union gave out the money without ID. When 'stop payment' went out through credit card company, Western Union claimed it was not their problem. I hate scammers, but am also VERY disappointed that a Western Union would not check ID before giving out money.

Jack Kelley said...

Rick, you are a good soul to have pondered this. "Stranded Without Funds" has become an increasingly common email scam.

A variation on it has long been popular on big-city streets. I've been approached in both New York and London by guys with polished sob stories about being mugged and needing money to get home.

P.S. -- Killing two birds with one post: I use an iPad. Love it.

Selective Focus said...

Rick - Jim Griggs in Kansas. I am being held hostage unless you can send me two 1D Mark IV's. Not sure how long I can hold out with these circumstances. Loads of summer flowers showing up on the prairie. Not sure the 7D's will do them justice and the world knows we need justice!

Help please.

Desperate in Kansas

Aleksi Lepisto said...

Also happend to me via Facebook chat.

I didn't give out money, and instead suggested they call their parents, over and over again.

I bet that scammer was annoyed! I had no idea it was a scam though. said...

Hi Rick,

Thank You so much for your concern, willingness, and prompt help!

It is rather disconcerting to be the subject of an internet scam.
My brother in Denmark and my stepson who also live there were very worried and almost sent the money, too.

I very much appreciate you turning matters into the FBI and Scotland Yard. It's difficult to know where to turn.

The bad guys had completely hi-jacked my Yahoo account so I couldn't access it. They had changed password, and pass word questions. Yahoo was not helpful and when i finally got through their barricades and hoped to email everyone they had sent the email to, the bad guys had erased my address book.

Luckily my other son suggested I go through my sent emails to find addresses. It was a little more time consuming, but it worked.

I heard the news first as I was at the Toyota workshop taking care of my final mat recall. Too much excitement in one day!!

P.S. Thank you for the compliment about being sweet and nice. I can only say ditto, ditto! You are definitely one of the most considerate and helpful workshop leaders I have experienced.

VSP Workshops said...

hey Rick - we used to have a lot - and I mean a lot of this kind of thing too. Strange enough, nearly every time, they came from a yahoo email address. Many of these scams originate from the same few countries - in which yahoo and their free email accounts have a much bigger presence or market awareness....hence many of them tend to be yahoo accounts.

Thanks for sharing the story


Lynn Glocker said...

I have been hacked into as well as of June 1st. Same story, stole all my email address' and sent them all a sob story letter to send money on my behalf.
Sad part, they count on the 1% who trust the sender and fall for the con.

Anonymous said...

I just had this happen to me...took me a while to realize that in addition to the embarrassing email sent to clients, colleagues, etc, the scammer had changed my email settings so anyone writing to me before I changed my password had their message forwarded to the scammers while the copy to me was dumped in the trash. Neat way to get more addresses!

Anonymous said...

Just happened to me too, gmail & facebook. The email they are using is

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for this blog. I almost gave a person I know money, but the email just didn't sound like her. It was her gmail account.

My question is, since I did email her back at the correct email address which was hijacked (they had the correct email address except for 1 extra digit!!!!) will they now try and hack my account and steal my identity? Who do I report this to?

I've contacted the individual through linked in (assuming that wasn't hacked as well) to let them know what's happening in their name.

Sharon Jameson said...

Unfortunately, I am in that situation, stranded in Ireland, and getting the runaround with the irish authorities.
Because of this, I have received a load of loan scam emails from gmail accounts.
I had to wipe all my contacts from my yahoo and hotmail to protest my friends lists.
I have not sent any emails,just registered with a site and built my own website.