Skip to main content

An Email Scam

My wife encountered an email scam that I had never seen before. She got an email from a friend's email address:
I'm caught up in a real mess and i need your help. I'm sorry I didn't inform you about my trip,I had a trip to the Wales United Kingdom and a bizarre thing happened to me.I was mugged at gun point last night, it happened at the park of the Hotel were i lodged but thank God i wasn't hurt, the muggers carted away with all my belongings excluded my passport. Cell,credit card,cash and some important documents are all gone. I was able to make contact with the UK Police and i was directed to the Embassy, but they seems to be taking things too slow.I need your help so urgently.. My flight leaves pretty soon but i am having problems sorting out the hotel bills also getting my ticket straightened out. Ineed your help. I need a quick loan of ($1,800) to get things fixed out here,I promise to refund as soon as i get back home.. please reply asap. so i can tell you what to do and how to get the money to me..Hope to read from you soon..
It smelled fishy, but the email headers were legit. My wife decided to call her friend. By chance, she didn't pick up and we had to leave voice mail, which had us worrying that it my be real.

My wife responded to the email saying:
I didn't know you were out of the country! Just to make sure no one hijacked your e-mail account, can you tell me how you know me?
Within a minute, she got a response:
My email was not hacked,l know this sounds weird and you wouldn't believe me,i'm really stuck out here in the UK and it's so devastating at the moment.l wish i could call but i don't have access to phone at the moment ,I have nothing left on me and i'm glad that i still have my life and my passport cos it would have been worst if they made away with my passport.I am full of panic now and the police only asked me to write a statement about the incident and directed me to the embassy,i have spoken to the Consulate here but they are not responding to the matter effectively,I really need your help to get myself out of this place.
I realized that the result came too quickly, but more importantly, we were involved in an actual Turing test ;) Since the email didn't answer the question we asked, we assumed it was fake.

A few minutes later, my wife's friend finally called back. She wasn't in the UK. We told her about the scam and told her to change her password, and we would see if the robot would continue responding. It turns out, she was locked out of her account--it had been hijacked. Gmail has a process to recover a hijacked account, and the last we heard, she was going through that process.

Crazy. I wonder if we're going to see more scams like this.

Comments

jbrendel said…
Hi JJ,

I've heard of these scams before, some time ago, actually. Maybe 6 months or a year ago? Something like that.

They can look very real, it's scary. And recently a friend of mine had their email hacked, resulting in spam mail coming from a genuine account (Yahoo in that case).

Just goes to show how important it is to have good email passwords.

Juergen
Bob Van Zant said…
This happened to me in a similar way, except that it was facebook chat. A friend with a poor facebook password had their account jacked and the malicious person did the same sort of thing, except over facebook chat. The person wasn't a close friend so I almost immediately knew it was a scam.

FWIW I really like lastpass and the random passwords it generates.
Brandon L. Golm said…
happened to a very close friend ... they got gmail and facebook cracked, and same scam. 1Password FTW.
Shrutarshi Basu said…
This exact same thing happened to my mother on her Hotmail account. That account is now lost.

Popular posts from this blog

Ubuntu 20.04 on a 2015 15" MacBook Pro

I decided to give Ubuntu 20.04 a try on my 2015 15" MacBook Pro. I didn't actually install it; I just live booted from a USB thumb drive which was enough to try out everything I wanted. In summary, it's not perfect, and issues with my camera would prevent me from switching, but given the right hardware, I think it's a really viable option. The first thing I wanted to try was what would happen if I plugged in a non-HiDPI screen given that my laptop has a HiDPI screen. Without sub-pixel scaling, whatever scale rate I picked for one screen would apply to the other. However, once I turned on sub-pixel scaling, I was able to pick different scale rates for the internal and external displays. That looked ok. I tried plugging in and unplugging multiple times, and it didn't crash. I doubt it'd work with my Thunderbolt display at work, but it worked fine for my HDMI displays at home. I even plugged it into my TV, and it stuck to the 100% scaling I picked for the othe

Drawing Sierpinski's Triangle in Minecraft Using Python

In his keynote at PyCon, Eben Upton, the Executive Director of the Rasberry Pi Foundation, mentioned that not only has Minecraft been ported to the Rasberry Pi, but you can even control it with Python . Since four of my kids are avid Minecraft fans, I figured this might be a good time to teach them to program using Python. So I started yesterday with the goal of programming something cool for Minecraft and then showing it off at the San Francisco Python Meetup in the evening. The first problem that I faced was that I didn't have a Rasberry Pi. You can't hack Minecraft by just installing the Minecraft client. Speaking of which, I didn't have the Minecraft client installed either ;) My kids always play it on their Nexus 7s. I found an open source Minecraft server called Bukkit that "provides the means to extend the popular Minecraft multiplayer server." Then I found a plugin called RaspberryJuice that implements a subset of the Minecraft Pi modding API for B

ERNOS: Erlang Networked Operating System

I've been reading Dreaming in Code lately, and I really like it. If you're not a dreamer, you may safely skip the rest of this post ;) In Chapter 10, "Engineers and Artists", Alan Kay, John Backus, and Jaron Lanier really got me thinking. I've also been thinking a lot about Minix 3 , Erlang , and the original Lisp machine . The ideas are beginning to synthesize into something cohesive--more than just the sum of their parts. Now, I'm sure that many of these ideas have already been envisioned within Tunes.org , LLVM , Microsoft's Singularity project, or in some other place that I haven't managed to discover or fully read, but I'm going to blog them anyway. Rather than wax philosophical, let me just dump out some ideas: Start with Minix 3. It's a new microkernel, and it's meant for real use, unlike the original Minix. "This new OS is extremely small, with the part that runs in kernel mode under 4000 lines of executable code.&quo