It seems there is a new email scam in town. For the second time this week I got an email from a friend with the title “I need Your Urgent Help.” Apparently, my friend decided to take a surprise trip to the UK, lost her wallet, credit cards, and passport, and now needs my help to get home. At the end of the message she asks me to reply and she’ll send Western Union details along. I didn’t know what was stranger: the fact that my friend took a “surprise trip to Scotland” or that two people I knew had both been robbed of their possessions in the UK in a week.
I first got this message last week ago from an old co-worker who I have occasionally emailed. It was weird when he sent it, and I thought it sounded like a scam then. Getting almost the exact same text today from a friend I just saw in Jerusalem, Israel the other day confirms it: this email is a phishing scam.
What is a Phishing Scam?
A phishing scam is an attempt at identity theft that arrives usually via email (although Twitter, Facebook and other social media scams exist) and appears to come from a legitimate source such as a financial institution, business, or trusted friend asking for urgent help. Many times emails like this contain a link to a fraudulent site that looks legitimate. Once you enter your details and provide information, your hooked.
A good way to avoid getting hooked in a phishing scam is to not provide any information in response to the inquiry. Don’t click on links on the page, and NEVER download anything from a message like this.
Text of Gmail Scam: “I need Your Urgent Help”
For your own reference, here is the text of the Gmail scam I just got:
How are you doing? Hope all is well with you and family, I know this might be a surprise to you but I am sorry I didn’t inform you about my traveling to Scotland for a Seminar.
I need a favor from you because I misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel, my money and other valuables are gone including my credit cards. I will like you to assist me with an urgent loan of 2000 british pounds which is about $3200 U.S dollars to sort-out my hotel bills and get myself back home. This is one favor I will always show gratitude throughout my lifetime.
I will appreciate whatever you can afford to help me with and I promise to refund the money as soon as I return home. Please do this for me and I will be grateful. Let me know if you can help me out so I
can send you the details for making a transfer through Western Union.
The craziest thing about this and most phishing scams is that it appeared to come directly from my friend along with her signature block in the bottom. I replied to her directly to tell her that I think someone hacked her email account. In any case, I did not supply my financial information and do not plan too.
Has anyone else received this message? What did you di?