Gmail Scam: “I need Your Urgent Help”

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:

Hello,

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?

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5 Comments

  1. i just received it, i thought it was a bit fishy, i responded asking for more information just in case it was real, since i know my friend does take unexpected trips to the UK, I will see if he responds but in no way would i provide my financial details.

    Reply
    • It’s TOTALLY fake. Upon further investigation I found out that my friend had provided her Gmail password in response to a message from “the Google team.”

      WORD OF CAUTION: Google or any other site for that matter will NEVER ask you for your password. This is a common tactic of phishers: they set up a dummy email address (in this case something like “google@mail.com”) and send you an official looking email asking you to provide sensitive information. Here’s the rub, Google already has that information from you, it is one of their most valuable assets, and no – they are never losing it and will never need you to provide it to them.

      Good for you Riri in spotting the scam. Anyone else get one of these messages or fall victim?

      Reply
  2. Just got this message at work from a client that I am not on a cordial basis with. Found it very odd and when discussing out loud a co-workere was like “wait a minute, that sounds familiar” and sure enough she had received one from another client a week ago. Same subject line only a slightly different message. We then googled the subecjt line of “I Need Your Urgent Help….” and found this site. Odd thing is that neither of ours is asking for any specific information.

    Reply
  3. I just got the email from a friend I hadn’t talked to in a while. The subject line was “please rescue me for god’s sake”. I called her and left a voicemail & sent her a message on facebook, as well as posting a link to this article & a warning to my friends regarding this scam. I’m thinking her facebook might be compromised as well so I’m glad that I called her. Hopefully I’ll hear back from her soon.

    Reply
    • So are you assuming this is a real call for help or a similar phishing scam? I hope everything is okay and that it is just the scam (as weird as that sounds). Please let us know how it turns out. Mike

      Reply

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