This scam has been around for a while but seems more prevalent lately because I’ve received the below message from three of my friends in the last week.
Here’s the message to watch out for.
“TERRIBLE NEWS...HELP !!!
I'm sorry this is coming so sudden, I am in some terrible situation right now and need your urgent assistance. Some days ago,I came down to Scotland,UK on a short vacation,unfortunately I got mugged by some hoodlums. All my cash,credit cards and phones were taken at gunpoint!
It's such a traumatic experience . right now I'm stranded and need help getting back home. I've been to the embassy and the Police here but they're not being helpful in any way. the good thing is I still have my passports. Just don't have enough money to get back home. Please I need your help here ! promise to refund you right as soon as I'm back home in a couple of days.
waiting to hear from you.”
What’s this scam all about?
The scammers hacked your friends email account and then sent this message out to EVERYONE in your friends contact list. The idea is to use the subject’s credibility and personal relationships with their friends to get a gullible friend to send the scammers money, usually via Western Union.
What to do if you get this message:
1. Don’t send money – your friend is fine. Call them and check on their welfare if you like.
2. Let your friend know – In most cases the subject of the scam doesn’t even know that these messages went out. Contact your friend and let them know that they’ve been the subject of this scam.
3. Did I mention “Don’t send money”?
What to do if you’re the subject of this scam:
1. Try to change your password – In all likelihood the scammers that got your email password changed it as soon as they could. This way they lock you out of your own email account and prevent you from interfering with the scam.
2. Try to use the “password recovery tool” – In all likelihood they changed the codeword for this tool also, again to keep the scam going.
3. Contact your email provider – Let the support department of your email provider know what’s going on and ask them to put a stop to it. You’re not the first person that this has happened to so they’ll know what to do and will take action right away.
4. Change your other passwords – If you use the same password on OTHER websites then change them immediately. Since the scammer now has access to your email they may see that you get emails from a bank, Facebook, etc. and try to use the same password on those accounts as well. This is a good reason to use different passwords at different websites.
5. Let your friends know that your OK – post a message on Facebook or text / email your friends to let them know that you’ve been subject of this scam and that you are OK and to NOT send money.
What to do afterword:
1. Getting your email address back - In all likelihood you’ll get access to your email address again, it just might take a while. Follow-up with the email provider and ask them how to get access to your email account again. There is no telling if your contacts will still be there or what you’ll find when you get access to your account again but at least you’ll have the email address back.
2. Email lists – You and your friends may end up on the email lists of other scammers so be wary of other scams & solicitations sent to that same email address.
3. Use caution – the scammers got your email address because of something that you did, something that you clicked or something that you typed in. Use better judgment in what you do & enter on-line to avoid falling victim again.
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