Beware. . .

May 28, 2010

Photo Tips

Hey Gang,

Check this out . . . and be careful!



• • •

Today, I received the following email from one of the sweetest and nicest workshop students I have ever encountered. The thing is, it was not from her.

Here goes:

I’m writing this with tears in my eyes, I’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 London United Kingdom right now, i came down here on vacation, i was robbed, worse of it was that bags, cash, cards and my cell phone were stolen off me at GUN POINT, so i only have access to my emails, it was such a crazy and brutal experience for me and i was hurt on my right hand, but i’m glad i still have my life.

I need help flying back home, the authorities are not being 100% supportive, i have been to the embassy and the Police here in London, but they’re not helping issues at all, but the good thing is that i still have my passport but don’t have enough money to sort the bills and get my flight ticket back home, please i need you to loan me some money, i promise to refund it as soon as I’m back home, you can get it to me through western union.

• • •

She followed up that email up with this after I contacted “her”:


Thanks for your quick response I really appreciate it, what i need you to do for me is to loan me $1,550 and i will refund it as soon as i get back home, you can get it to me via western union Money transfer, kindly walk up to any nearby store that operates on western union to send the money. Check for a local WU outlet that is close to you and use my below details to complete the transfer.

Receiver’s Name: XXXXXXXX (I deleted it for my friend’s privacy)
Location: London, United Kingdom.

So i will be waiting for you to get back to me ASAP with the western union transfer details, as soon as you have it done, you will need to get back to me with the western union MTCN number and other transfer details and total amount sent to enable me pick up the money. As soon as i get back home, i will pay everything back including the transfer charges.

• • •

My first reaction was to help her. She is around 76 and this could have happened to her. Easily. She travels a lot. She is not in the greatest shape.

After talking with some friends who know her, we realized that it was identity theft.

So beware of emails from your “friends” asking for money! Also check the address after the name. In this case, it was not my friend’s address.

After her name in the From window was this fake email address: email hidden; JavaScript is required

Be careful,

This post was written by:

- who has written 171 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Canon Explorer of Light Rick Sammon has published 36 books, including Exploring the Light and Digital Photography Secrets.

When asked about his photo specialty, Rick says, “My specialty is not specializing.”

You can follow Rick on twitter at and visit his website at

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5 Responses to “Beware. . .”

  1. ShebaJo Says:

    This scam is happening to many. FaceBook seems to be a great source of info for the scammers. Some have even hacked FB accts., run the scam from there.


  2. Even Solberg Says:

    I had one of my Facebook friends pop up on my FB chat with the same story. Turns out his account had been hacked.

    When he popped up on FB with this story, I asked to talk to him, before I sent any money, just to verify that it was indeed him. “He” gave me a phone number to an alledged hotel in London (which a quick Google search didn’t really find) and everything. This rose my suspicion. My “friend” said he’d be back in his hotel in 10 minutes (he was allegedly using the computers in a public library since his laptop had been stolen). The number was indeed a UK number, but when called, the ring tone was NOT the one used in the UK. I’ve called the UK enough to know this wasn’t it.

    I spoke to someone who claimed to be the hotel manager, and he told me I had “just missed” my friend who had been waiting for me to call – he had gone back to the library to try to get hold of me again. Sure enough, a few minutes later, he popped up again. By now I was really suspicious, so I asked some questions to which only my friend would know the answer. This made the person at the other end get somewhat hostile, saying I wasn’t a true friend for asking these questions, and a TRUE friend would send the money and so on.

    By now, I had dug up my friend’s mobile phone number (the hacker had changed his personal info, including password, on Facebook), and called him. He was definitely NOT in London having been mugged at gunpoint.

    I confronted Mr Hacker guy with this, and he disappeared offline rather quickly. My friend was able to have his FB account restored by calling Facebook.

    Moral of the story: Trust, but verify.


  3. Darren Says:

    This happened to my parents just a couple weeks ago. A guy called them claiming to be their grandson (who travels a lot). He said he was in trouble and needed them to wire money. My mother had heard about this scam, because it happened to their neighbor last summer, so she knew enough to hang up the phone.


  4. Libby Says:

    You really have to watch out for those students from Nigeria ;-) Seriously, any time Western Union is mentioned it should raise a red flag, and this is probably the number one mode of operation used by scamming thieves.

    There was a thing on the news here about the scammers getting enough info off of Facebook to call up unsuspecting grandmothers. They would get enough info off of FB to make the call using a young male voice, and the young male would say he was in jail up in Toronto or some such place, and needed bail money from Grandma (via Western Union of course) so his parents wouldn’t find out. I hate it when old people are targeted. Some have so little, but a kind heart and willingness to believe could cause them to lose everything.


  5. SRO Says:

    Similar thing happened when my friend’s email got hacked. Funny part, they even used her husband’s name.

    How you doing? This has had to come in a hurry as it left me in a devastating state… Rob and I, made a trip to London (United Kingdom) unannounced some days back on vacay, Unfortunately we got mugged at gun point last night! All cash, Credit card and phone got stolen, we got messed up in another country, stranded in London, fortunately passport and travel docs was back in my hotel room. It was a bitter experience and i was hurt on my right hand, but would be fine. I’m sending you this message cos i don’t want anyone to panic; I want you to keep it that way for now!

    Our return flight leaves tomorrow, but We’re having troubles sorting out the hotel bills.. this is embarrassing enough, wondering if you could loan us some dollars to sort out the hotel bills and also take a cab to the airport about ($2000).We have been in contact with the police and the Embassy here, but they aren’t helping issues, we got limited means of getting out of here, Already canceled our cards and made a police report.. we don’t get new card numbers till we get back home! So i really need your help.

    You could wire whatever you can spare to my name and hotel address via Western union:

    Leslie XXXXXXX
    56 Kentish Town Road, London, NW5 2AA

    Please get back to me with the details once you have made the transfer; would def refund it to you once i arrive! Hopefully in 2 days, Sorry for any inconvenience this might cause you.

    I await your prompt response.


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