Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fiona's Email Has Been Stolen

I am writing this for 2 reasons: 1) Because Fiona, who is currently teaching in South Korea reads this blog and I know no other way than email to contact her and 2) to warn everyone about this type of scam.

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.



Budd Bailey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Budd Bailey said...

We got a similar letter at work from our outdoors writer. The grammar was suspicious.

infogoddess said...

I am fine - it was a scam the Cardiff Police advised me that they were aware that the address was being used but apparently the scammers convince someone to sent them the receipt and they can then have the money sent to a different address in, you guessed it, Nigeria. My account was hacked first through facebook and then when I was fixing that hack attempt they got into my e-mail account and changed the password. I still don't know how it is done but it happened WHILE I WAS ONLINE and I hadn't clicked on anything (I was doing some homework) - it took a couple of days but I did get my account back. Just remember to change your passwords every couple of months or so as I found out that hotmail accounts and passwords have been sold lately online. One of my friends did have some fun with the hackers really leading them on. When I got access to my account back I was able to read all of the emails that they had sent and received. Luckily someone here in Korea called me as soon as the first e-mail went out to see if I had suddenly gone on vacation. She posted a message to my facebook account to tell people to ignore. All in all no real damage but two very long days of trying to get my accounts back. BTW, I have plenty of money, there is nothing to spend it on here so I am really going on vacation in August to Africa!