I received the following email from Fiona's email account yesterday morning:
'm sorry for this odd request because it might get to you too urgent but it's because of the situation of things right now, i'm stuck in Cardiff Wales, United Kingdom right now. I came down here on vacation, i was robbed, worse of it is that bags, cash and cards and my cell phone was stolen at GUN POINT, it's such a crazy experience for me, i need help in sorting out the hotel bills, the authorities are not being 100% supportive but the good thing is i still have my passport but don't have enough money to pay the hotel bills and get back home, please i need you to loan me some money, will refund you as soon as i'm back home, i promise.
It was early in the morning, and I thought she was in trouble, even though it did seem like that language and grammar in the email were unlikely for a librarian who values the English language. The idea that she was in Wales was not farfetched, as she is an English citizen. I responded "how would that work".
Shortly after that, having biked to school and given it some thought, it occurred to me that this is likely a scam. But, it was signed with her name, so clearly not your typical junk email.
I got a reply asking me to wire $2500 to an address in Wales, which I later googled and turned out to be the Cardiff courthouse. At this time I responded that I wanted to confirm it was her, and asked a question that she would know the answer to, but no stranger could. I have not heard back. (Fiona, if you are reading this, it had to do with your least favorite character of mine!) If it was really her and she was in trouble, I certainly wanted to help.
In the meantime, now getting pretty sure that this was not a real request, I checked her twitter account, which did not mention any vacation. I also emailed her sister, who, I was sure, would be helping her out if she were really in trouble. Helen responded that is was a scam, but that she was slightly fooled for a bit as well.
What is scary is that someone has been able to use her account, and knows her name. I am concerned for Fiona as to what else they might know about her.
Oh, and Fiona, if you have to change your email account as a result of this, please let me know the new address.