While vacationing recently on Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan, I received two cell phone calls; one from a good friend and a second from a cousin, wondering if I was okay in London. I have always been okay in London where I have visited ten times and when I called back they each said that they had been concerned after receiving the following e-mail under my name:
“I'm writing this with tears in my eyes, I came down here to London, United Kingdom for a short vacation unfortunately i was mugged at the park of my way to the hotel where i lodge, all cash, credit card and cell were stolen from me but luckily for me i still have my passports with me.
I've been to the embassy and the Police here are not helping issues at all and my flight leaves shortly from now but am having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let me leave until i settle the bills,
I'm freaked out at the moment....”
How Did They Do It?
It seemingly came from me at one of my e-mail addresses and was sent to more than five hundred of my contacts there. Someone had hacked into that account, sent out a mass mailing to all of them as Harvey Gotliffe, wiped all of those contacts’ addresses and everything else I had saved on that account.
Why Did They Do It?
If you answered this scavenger out of kindness toward me they sent this follow up e-mail:
“Am so glad you reply back , I still need help, I have nothing left on me right now and I am lucky to have my life and passports with me it would have been worst if they had made away with my passports. Though, I suffer little injury on my left arm. Well all I need now is just $2,700 you can have it wired to my name via Western Union i'll have to show my passport as ID to pick it up here and i promise to pay you back as soon as I get back home. Here's my info below
Name: Harvey Gotliffe
State: London SW1H OQW
Country: United Kingdom
Money Is the Root of All Evil
The scoundrel figure that if he sent out five hundred free emails and if one person followed through with any money, he is way ahead. Unfortunately one dear, naïve friend who cares deeply for me, saw me in deep trouble and immediately sent out $2,700 to Western Union in London. She was sent another e-mail saying that more money was needed and she paid another $2,300 to him. I would call him a scavenger, crook, scoundrel or goniff, but another recipient friend who did not pay best described him when she replied, “You are a scumbag degenerate asshole.(SDA)”
Where Do You Go From Here
I called up my Internet provider’s service desk and first got Lloyd in the Philippines and when that happens I immediately ask for an “on shore” representative and was transferred to Josh, a Tier One person in the USA. When he couldn’t resolve the problem, he in turn transferred me to Mike, a Tier Two person, who after consulting with two other Tier Two people said there’s nothing they can do to recover anything on that account and advised me to change the password. Then he suggested that I change the password on all of my e-mail accounts once a month, which I did immediately and will do every thirty days.
Shedding a Tear or Two
I still feel badly about my dear friend who cared $5,000 worth for me and would like to start a fund raising drive for her. Anyone who wants to contribute anything, please let me know. I, in turn, will give you some information to help you and your friends and relatives avoid this SDA and others out there preying on the innocent.
First do like I did and send an e-mail report to your Internet provider’s abuse site, then call up the provider and have them help you out. My session with them via the phone took ninety minutes.
Next look at this article from the San Francisco Chronicle on the scam
Then go to the Western Union web site and learn all about this fraud and others. Unfortunately, WU seems to be an unwitting co-conspirator:
Western Union also offers a telephone number to call to report the fraud at 1-800-448-1492.
Working a Scheme vs. Working
There will always be someone out there trying to get something for nothing or trying to manipulate the system and defraud the innocent and not so innocent. Whether it be Jack Madoff and his Ponzi scheme or the Nigerian in London, be wary because the results can be scary.
Do Them A Favor
Please forward this blog post to family, friends and colleagues you care about to warn them of this and other e-mail scams.