Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
Over the weekend, a number of the people in our Office were sent an e-mail by someone they have worked with over the last few years. In the e-mail the sender noted he was stuck in Spain having lost his wallet and cell phone. He needed $3,700 wired right away to try to work things out with the embassy and get home.
Of course, it was a spam e-mail. In fact, some of the folks who received the e-mail over the weekend had just talked to the sender late last week and knew he wasn’t in Spain.
This e-mail (read the entire text below) is a merging of two long-standing spam attempts at taking your money and your identity – the phony phone call, and the Nigerian bank scam.
In the past, seniors have been targeted with phone calls of this nature. A grandchild or niece or nephew will call, say they are stuck overseas, and need a quick wire transfer. This e-mail harkens back to the Nigerian bank scam e-mails that clogged inboxes a few years including, even including the misspellings and awkward wording that marked those bogus e-mails.
If you receive an e-mail or a phone call of this nature, be very suspicious. Try to contact your friend or relative to make sure he or she is OK, but do not wire money until you are absolutely sure there is a need. E-mail correspondence is not good enough, because obviously the account has likely been hacked. Call your friend or relative, and after you have a good laugh, have them change the password to their e-mail account to avoid further spam outbreaks.
Here is the original e-mail:
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.
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