Sunday, March 18, 2012

The I-got-mugged-while-overseas online scam!

I got a strange email last night. Strange because it came from someone I haven't met in person (I know her only because she reads my blog, comments, and joins my giveaways)... and strange because it's so preposterous.

Overseas mugging email scam You can click on the image above for a clearer view of the scam email, but I deleted her name to protect her privacy -- I know that she wasn't the one who sent it even if her actual email address was used. To save you the trouble though, I'll cut and paste it below exactly as I received it:

Hello

I'm writing this with tears in my eyes,my family and I came over here to Madrid, Spain for a short vacation. unfortunately,we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed,all cash and credit card were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.

We've been to the Embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in few hours from now but we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills. Well I really need your financial assistance..Please, Let me know if you can help us out? Write me back so that i can tell you how you can get the funds to me.

Am freaked out at the moment!!

Person's Name (which I omitted)

I can spot an online scam a mile away so I knew right off that this was one of them -- and it's not just because I don't know her personally.

Some telltale clues:

  • If your flight leaves in a few hours and you're in desperate need of money, would you resort to soliciting via email? Considering time zone differences and server reliability, how could you rely on email during an emergency?
  • If you are pleading or asking for a favor this big, why would you send a mass mail with no name? Not even a Dear John, etc.? Besides, you will probably ask for something like this from people close to you... not from someone you've never met.
  • The person said to write him/her back so he/she can advise you on how to disperse the funds. Wouldn't the flight have left already after all that dilly-dallying?
Anyhow, this same kind of scam happened on Facebook a couple of years back. One of my high school classmates began chatting with our friends, telling them a sob story about getting mugged in Europe and needing financial assistance. Someone called the person concerned and she wasn't even abroad, she was here in the country and it turned out that her FB account had been hacked and hijacked -- it was being used to scam her friends and relatives connected to her via FB. We informed her so she could secure her account and stop the scammer from fooling her contacts.

I know it seems obvious and that most would think no one would ever fall for something like that. Wrong. I blogged about cellphone scams before and one of my acquaintances read about it a little too late. She had lost her family's hard-earned P70,000 to a scammer. So even if it seems useless, I choose to blog about this and try to inform as many people as I can.

Be careful everyone!


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