Friday, February 19, 2016

Your friend probably didn't just get robbed in a foreign country

It happens often.  Imagine that you receive an email from a friend or colleague claiming that he or she is stranded in a foreign country and desperately needs your help to get home. The email originates from the friend's real email account and may even include the same email signature that your friend uses when emailing you. Thus, you might be inclined to believe that the email was legitimate, at least at first glance. However, the emails are a clever scheme by Internet criminals designed to trick people into sending them money.

Many different versions of these scam attempts have been seen. Names and other details differ depending on who's email account the scammers have hijacked, as do the countries where the "friend" is supposedly stranded. The amounts of money requested in the messages may also differ. But, in spite of such superficial differences, all such messages are versions of the same basic scam. Sadly, many people have become victims of this scam and lost money to these criminals.

If you get an email from a friend who needs you to send them money quickly while they are on vacation, be very suspicious. If they really are on vacation, find a different way to try to contact your friend to find out if this email really came from them.  But you can probably rest assured that your friend probably didn’t just get robbed in a foreign country. :)

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