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Phishing email: The friend needing help

19
May
2011

An example of a phishing email I received today, which at first glance appeared to be a legitimate email from a friend, except for a Gmail warning at the top:

The text reads:

Hope you get this on time, I made a trip to Aberdeen, Scotland and had my bag stolen from me with my passport and credit cards in it. The embassy is willing to help by letting me fly without my passport, I just have to pay for a ticket and settle Hotel bills. Unfortunately for me, I can’t have access to funds without my credit card, I’ve made contact with my bank but they need more time to come up with a new one. I was thinking of asking you to lend me some quick funds that I can give back as soon as I get in. I really need to be on the next available flight. I can forward you details on how you can get the funds to me. You can reach me via email or on Blue Island hotel front desk phone, the numbers are, +447031804805 or +447031804806.
I await your response..

Fortunately, my Gmail provided this warning at the top, or I might have been more prone to believe that it actually came from my friend (and would have wasted time emailing her or calling mutual friends to confirm her location):

Warning: The content of this message is suspicious. The sender’s account may be compromised. Beware of following links or of providing the sender with any personal information. Ignore, I trust this message  Learn more.

Be careful out there. “The skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches.” ~Miguel de Unamuno (Spanish author and philosopher, 1864-1936)

Update: Following is another variant of this scam email. Beware!:

Apologies for having to reach out to you like this, I made a trip early this week to London, UK and had my bag stolen from me with my passport and credit cards in it. The embassy is willing to help by letting me fly without my passport, I just have to pay for a ticket and settle Hotel bills. Unfortunately for me, I can’t have access to funds without my credit card, I’ve made contact with my bank but they need more time to come up with a new one. I was thinking of asking you to lend me some quick funds that I can give back as soon as I get in. I really need to be on the next available flight. I can forward you details on how you can get the funds to me. You can reach me via email or May field hotel’s desk phone, the numbers are, +447031804805 or +447031804806

I misplaced my wallet and other valuables on my way to the hotel I lodged. I would have called you but there is no phone on me and I am sending you this e-mail from the city Library (and I only have 15mins in every 2hours to access my email from here). I have no funds on me because I had to block my account immediately the incident happened, I am facing a hard time here because i have no money on me to clear my Hotel bill and other expenses. Please I will like you to assist me with a soft loan of €2,600 Euro ($3,700 USD) or any amount you could afford to sort-out my hotel bills first and to get myself back home. I have reported the case to the embassy here and they are going through the necessary procedures but I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist me with and I’ll refund you the money as soon as I return. Please let me know if you could help me with the total sum or any amount you can afford.

I await your reply immediately so I can email you will need to help.

Hello,

How are you, I hope everything is fine?. I’m so sorry I did not inform you about my trip to Spain; it was imprompt and personal. Presently, I will be glad if I could confide in you and I want this issue to be confidential between You and I because I don’t want people to get worried about my situation. I’m presently in Valencia (Spain) for a seminar and to complete a project, but am having some problems here. It has been a very sad and bad moment for me over here and the present condition that i found myself is very hard for me to explain.

I misplaced my wallet, mobile phone and other valuables on my way to the hotel I lodged. I am sending you this e-mail from the city Library (and I only have 15mins in every 2hours to access my email from here), I had to block my account and my bank cards immediately the incident happened., I am facing a hard time here because i have no money on me to clear my Hotel bill and other expenses. Please I will like you to assist me with a loan of €2,600 Euro ($3,700 USD) or any amount you could afford to sort-out my hotel bills first and to get myself back home. I have reported the case to the embassy here and they are going through the necessary procedures but I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist me with and I’ll refund you the money as soon as I return. Please let me know if you could help me with the total sum or any amount you can afford.

I await your reply immediately so I can email you will need to help.

Thanks.

 

If you get such email, just ignore it. Stay away from this scam.

  1. Karin Staub May 25, 2011

    Received the identical e-mail yesterday. After responding last night and saying that I could wire money, if given the information, I received the answer to send the money with Westen Union. I was about to go to the bank to get the cash, but wanted to check this out further first, when I found your site.
    The instruction was to send the cash to: 269 Gorgie Road, Alberdeen, EH 11 17X Scotland. No name was given.
    Thank you for your site, but now I am worried about my friend. She does not respond to a call to her cell phone.
    AG

  2. bikome123 May 29, 2011

    I am the victim of this hack. It is only gmail that lerted recipeints that that I was not the author of this mail. The sad thing is that everything in my email inbox, contacts, sent were all wiped out.

  3. Brian Stanley May 30, 2011

    I received an identical email this morning (30/5/11) from someone I had not been in touch with for many months. I informed her straight away and she said that 2 weeks ago her Macbook was stolen in a Spanish town of Mora d’Ebre in Catalonia.
    Doing a reply to this email sends it to an address that looks identical but a v has been changed to a u. That means someone has set up an almost identical email address just to phish this person’s email list. Seems strange that someone who has stolen a Macbook in Spain can get into what appears to be a wider global scam.

  4. The Gallaghers June 3, 2011

    We received this email, but it referred to the purported sender’s wife by her name – the pfisher must be able to personal these emails by accessing other material in the friend’s computer. The email sounded suspicious tho’, especially since we had an email from these friends in Germany the night before with no mention of Scotland. We found your site when we googles “Blue Island Hotel Scotland” – we had wanted to check the phone number.

    Thank you for the warning. We have alerted our friends to the scam.

  5. Sean June 20, 2011

    I have received this very same email today. It has wiped out all my emails, all my contacts and all my yahoo folders. Can this ever be recovered I wonder. I am devastated.

  6. Laura June 29, 2011

    Just received this email from one of my clients. Since I know she can’t really afford a trip to Aberdeen and she would have told me if she was going. I’ll call her this am to let her know she’s been hacked. And as a former resident of Aberdeen – they’ve used the wrong phone code for Aberdeen – 224 not 703!

  7. Jose July 12, 2011

    Thanks for sharing this. I just got an e-mail with the same message. I was writing an answer when I asked myself where this hotel really is, and I found your website.

    Thanks for help and for sharing this!

  8. Stefan Fischer July 19, 2011

    Thanks for warning me, I got the same mail, but they filled even the names in. Maybe they hacked the account of a friend?

  9. Jeff July 20, 2011

    I rcvd the same email today , after I answered , they ask for $2,000 usd that trasfer by Western Union or Money Gram.

  10. Jeroen Vancutsem July 25, 2011

    Thank you very much for this information. I received on July 21 also the same message from a business relative on my business account. I read my e-mail only a couple of days later because of holidays. I replied, but now this mail was signed by another person however I didn’t notice it at that moment. A sum of money was asked and the address was given in a third mail. Having serious doubts about these emails because they were not personal, unfriendly replies, not updated with information about the situation…, I found on google your information.

  11. PaulJC July 26, 2011

    A friend of mine had his yahoo.com email hacked, and “sent” me this. I replied and he asked this of me:

    ******
    Sent: Sunday, July 24, 2011 5:47 AM
    Subject: Re: Hi

    I have made inquiries and western union seems to be the best option for me to receive funds right now. Pls let me know if you can send it using western union.
    ******

    Here was my immediate reply:
    **************
    —– Forwarded Message —–
    From: Chatman
    To: “robert***@***.com”
    Sent: Sunday, July 24, 2011 5:17 PM
    Subject: Robert, Great News!! The money is on its way!!

    Ok Robert,

    You and I have known each other for over 10 years, so I know we can trust each other.
    The money has just been wired as of 11:01 am PST, but a Federal Agent came by and told me that The President passed a law making all US Citizens traveling abroad without passports pay a re-entry of 2000.00$ USD. The US Embassy in Aberdeen will give you a Special International Credit Card, you will then use the card to transfer the 2000.00 USD from the Scotish National Bank to the bank of Washington DC payable to the US Goverment.
    When you get back to the USA you will have three years to pay back the 2000.000 to the Scotsh Government.

    The White House Agent told me they called the Embassy in Scotland and confirmed you’re situation. An Official from the White House that heads the foreign US Embassies needs some information. I need the name of the building you stayed in when we first met.

    But first there are some very easy forms and documents that you must read. I NEED you to [read this] that I got from the White House [regarding the replacement passport] and trip back to USA. Please [read it carefully]!! It is very important.

    Good Luck, and hope to see you soon!!!
    ***************************

    I haven’t heard back from my friend Robert. What do you suppose happened?

    >:)

    PaulJC

  12. PaulJC July 26, 2011

    I forgot to mention that the [bracketed] portions were links to the sites calling out this e-mails scam. The last one pointed HERE. LOL!!

  13. Anonymous July 29, 2011

    I just received the same email today, including a follow-up email asking for money to be sent to Western Union, care of the same address above.

    I then sent an email to [email protected] to report the fraud. No reply yet. I also called Western Union’s fraud hotline and asked if they could freeze any funds sent to that account and contact the police. They said that they co-operate with police investigations but do not initiate any calls to police, which I found very disappointing.

    Does anyone know which police to contact, and how? It would be great to catch these culprits showing up at a Western Union office trying to cash in their stolen money.

  14. HashHouseHarriers_newshoes August 3, 2011

    I confirm I received the same email today. Same wording.

    I suspected fraud right away. The wording “I await your response” is not an American term, but it appears in most “Nigerian emails” I receive. 🙂 This is a “419” as folks say in Nigeria (fraud).

  15. Paulus Simpkins August 9, 2011

    I also got the same e-mail, so quick like a bunny I logged onto BT.com and looked up the phone number for “Blue Island hotel in Aberdeen… Guess what…no such hotel…or anything else called Blue Island. There is a Blue Island hotel in Enugu Nigeria though…surprise??

    I suspect my friend has had his phone stolen as stated, but that’s where the trail ends. Probably stolen in the US, and sent to Nigeria to be hacked.

    Definately a new variant on the old 419 scam.

    Pablus

  16. DPC August 9, 2011

    Hi Paulus, thanks for your sharing. If not mind, could you forward the scam email to us? Thanks!

  17. Susan August 10, 2011

    I too, just got identical email. I was wondering why my friend would ask for emergency fund while she has tons of close relative and friends. I had not seen or talked to her for more than 8 months. However, I did call both phone # listed on the email, the 1st one was busy (or none exist phone, who knows). I did not understand the pre recorded message on the 2nd #. Then, I googled Blue Island Hotel and see if I can reached her through hotel reservation… Thanks for the Almighty google and those who posted their experience. this site save me from been victimized by those heartless and lawless scammer.

  18. SR August 13, 2011

    My account was hacked and this message sent to everyone on my “contacts” list. The perp even sent a follow-up message to confirm the recipient received the first request. Fortunately these contacts are intelligent people who can smell a skunk across an ocean.

  19. mutturaj August 18, 2011

    Hi,
    Even i got mail today, i replied get me details, then i got reply in 1 hr with the Western Union details.
    Luckly i got your site and didn’t got trapped.

    Thanks,
    MutturAJ

  20. Dorothy August 21, 2011

    Hello, received same message early morning 15th Aug. but only read late evening on 16th Aug. I answered to sender immediately asking for more information. Unfortunately our friend didn’t answer until Sunday, 21st Aug.11 which left us all
    very unsecure about the whole situation five days long. In the long run things have turned out fine – but it still gives you a fright.

  21. Günther August 23, 2011

    August 23rd, 2011,

    Now they try in German! Same text “Blue Island Hotel, lost bag aso.”

    Vorsicht! Der gleiche Text wie in obigen englischen Mails! In Perfektem Deutsch.

  22. LAZ August 31, 2011

    We got the same message to our business e-mail, The e-mail was from “my husband” exactly his same name. We knew it was a scam because he was reading the message with me.

  23. Casandra September 3, 2011

    Hello. Phishing also made ​​me the letter from the Hotel you mentioned. If you want to resend it. Is there any way to recover the email contact, everything is empty. URLs are from Nigeria. thanks

  24. Jerry Gordon September 13, 2011

    I received it in Italian today, and it is Green Island Hotel.
    The number seems to be a mobile one.
    I didn’t click reply, but sent a fresh email to my friend who hasn’t yet replied, (which is odd given that he was meant to be waiting for the first plane back to wherever he was going). I asked him some questions which only he could answer as a precaution, and told him I thought his account had been hacked.

  25. Martin September 13, 2011

    I just received the exact same message (from Aberdeen, Scotland) yesterday and found this web site today. Thank goodness we have the Internet to save us from these scams. I sent an email to the friend who supposedly sent me the plea for funds—I also noted that her email address did not match the one I had for her!!!

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