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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Scam Email: Brian Needs Help

Here is a scam we see quite a bit that takes a different approach to getting money out of people. This was forwarded to me by another artist.

In this scam, it is typical that someone's web-based email or facebook account has been hacked (either by phishing and someone accidently giving up their password or just by software that goes through millions of combinations and once in awhile hits it lucky and guesses the correctly combo - particularly when people's passwords are easy to guess). So this scam email looks like it is coming from someone you know. I can relate to this. It happened to me on my hotmail account (and I wouldn't have considered my password easy to guess!)

Then they pretend they are in trouble and need money fast - via Western Union... sound familiar?? Really, scammers would really have to go back to the drawing board if Western Union was just willing to create a system where their transactions were verified and traceable. That they are not is why scammers have earned such a great living utilizing Western Union.

Okay, here's the email (and notice that classic weird period after the sign-off name... that is in almost every scam email and I don't know why - must be the software they use to generate these emails).

Subject: TRAGIC NEWS (they put the name of someone you know here) HELP NEEDED

I'm writing this with tears in my eyes my Family and I came down here to Madrid,Spain for a short vacation,unfortunately we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed all cash,credit card and cell were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.

We've been to the embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in less than 3hrs from now but we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills.

Am freaked out at the moment.



  1. I got that one from my children's gymnastics coach's hacked email. Apparently it's not only artists getting hacked.

    Thanks for the great blog.


  2. This is one I just got looking like it came from one of the artists in my art group - clearly her email has been hacked.


    Just writing to let you know our trip to Madrid,Spain it has been a mess. We were having a great time until last night when we got mugged and lost all our cash,credit card cell phone.It has been a scary experience, I was hit at the back of my neck with a pistol. Anyway,I'm still alive and that's what's important. I'm financially strapped right now and need your help.

    As we speak i need EURO 1,850 to add up and sort my bills,don't worry i will def refund it as soon as we get home,the fastest and safest means you can get money to me is via western union,Here's my info:

    Name:Bernice [her last name was here]
    Location;Álvarez de Castro Street, 41 28010 Madrid, Spain

    As soon as it is done, kindly get back to me with the confirmation number. Let me know when you are heading to the western union now?


  3. This is a great article, and a great topic to explore. Thanks for sharing.


  4. I just got scammed myself but I don't fall for crap like that.

  5. Just had one but decided to fight back. The scammer is now on wild goose chase around madrid!

  6. It would be interesting to hear what you got this scammer to do... it's always entertaining to me when we turn the tables on them and get them to do useless things and waste their time.

  7. Just had this from an old school friend who I've not seen or heard from in 7 or 8 years.


    I’m with family on vacation in Madrid, Spain and a lot of things has been spewing. We got mugged last night in an alley by a gang of thugs on our way back from shopping, one of them had a knife poking my neck for almost two minutes and everything we had on us including my cell phone, credit cards were all stolen,quite honestly it was beyond a dreadful experience for us but looking on the bright side we weren't seriously hurt or injured and we are still alive so that is whats important.

    I've reported to the cops here and canceled all our cards,it appeared I had acted quickly enough or they almost would have succeeded in cleaning out my bank account. I'm really having some difficulties clearing our hotel bills and also need to pick up a voucher ticket at the counter for us to catch a flight back home in a couple of hours.

    I was wondering if you could please loan me some money pending when we get things straighten out and I promise to refund as soon as we arrive home safely. All we need to get back is £1,850..You can wire it to my name from a western union outlet around... Here are the details you need to get the money to me

    Name - Morad (last name was here)
    Location. Calle General Alvarez de Castro, 41 28010 Madrid, Spain

    I still have my passport so I can use it as identification, e-mail me the transfer details and the confirmation number(MTCN#) including the amount sent.

    Are you heading out to western union now......let me know how soon will you be back


  8. This approach to scamming people out of money is referred to as the "Stranded Scam" and always comes as a result of a scammer hacking into the email account of someone you know (who has your email on the Contacts List).

    Always good to let them know their account has been hacked into and they should change their password.

  9. Got a version just now. Pretty convincing at first though.

    Googled it and found your blog :)

  10. Just received the same email, purporting to come from an American friend of mine. Fortunately, before complying, I emailed asking for some info that only my friend and I would know. Guess what -no response