Scam of the day – December 19, 2012 – Friend in distress scam

We have all heard about this particular scam, so when I received the following email I thought I would share it with you so you  could see exactly how it works.  It starts when you get a text message, social media posting or email from a friend in need.  The exact need varies from a legal emergency to a health emergency to anything else to appeal to your desire to help a desperate friend.  As outlandish as the message may be, it appears to come from a real friend of yours, not someone with a title in Nigeria.  The problem is that the plea is not from your friend, but it is from a scammer who has hacked into and hijacked your real friend’s social media account, cell phone or email account.  If you respond to the message, you will be told to wire money to your friend.  Wiring is a tip that it may well be a scam because wiring money is the choice of many scammers because once funds are wired, they are all but impossible to retrieve.

Here is the text of the email I received.  I did not include the email address indicating from where it was sent because the address is the legitimate address of a friend who has had his email account hacked.

“Hello,
This message may be coming to you as a surprise but I need your help.  Few days back we made an unannounced vacation trip to London United Kingdom.  Everything was going fine until last night when we were mugged on our way back to the hotel.  They Stole all our cash,credit cards and cellphone but thank God we still have our lives and passport.  Another shocking is that the hotel manager has been unhelpful to us for reasons I don’t know.   I’m writing you from a local library cybercafe.   I’ve reported to the police and after writing down some statements that’s the last  I had from them.  I contacted the consulate and all I keep hearing is they will get back to me. I need your help,  I need you to help me out with a loan to settle my bills here so we can get back home, our return flight leaves soon.   I’ll refund the money as soon as i get back.   All I need is $1,650.  Let me know if you can get me the money then I tell you how to get it to me.
I’m freaked out at the moment
Regards. ”

TIPS

If you even have the slightest notion that this kind of a message that you receive may be a real desperate contact from a real friend, the best thing you can do is to call the friend directly so you can make sure that it is a scam and that they know that their account has been hacked so they can send out a message to all of their friends to ignore the message.  They also should get a new password for their account.  Never wire money unless you are absolutely positive that you know to whom you are sending the funds.  Remember my motto, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.”