“Hi. Just writing to let you know my trip to Manila, Philippines with my family has been a mess…I need you to loan me some money. I’ll refund it to you as soon as I arrive home.”
That is the kind of fake e-mail thousands of Americans get every year. It appears to come from a friend, but is actually from a con man half a world away. Most people delete them.
When a “Nightline” producer received one of these emails, she decided to hit reply. That took us on a journey half way around the world and inside one of the most common online scams around. It’s called “the stranded traveler” scam and it costs victims who fall for it million of dollars every year.http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/17/us-russia-pyramid-idUSBRE88G08H20120917
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, based in West Virginia, has about 150,000 “stranded traveler” complaints on file. The phony emails often use the subject line, “I’m writing with tears in my eyes.” Special Agent Charles Pavelites showed us how the identical email has been received from Madrid, Spain, London, England and, yes, Manila in the Phillippines. “They’re all basically the same story, they were out of the country, they’ve been robbed and they need assistance now,” Pavelites said. “This is a prefab…it’s a form letter for a criminal.” “
The email our producer received asked for nearly $2,000 and it looked like it had been sent from an acquaintance named Susan Zador. But when we checked in with the real Susan, we found out she was not in the Philippines and her email account had been hacked.http://saccsivdotcom.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/mafia-states-2/
The person pretending to be Susan Zador claimed over email that he was traveling with somebody named Richard Kamenitzer and to wire the money to Richard in Manila. When “Nightline” tracked down the real Kamenitzer, a professor in Virginia, he said he had no idea who Susan Zador was, but that his email had also been hacked the same day as hers. Kamenitzer said he received several emails from worried friends. The hackers blocked Kamenitzer’s access to his own address book, so he had no easy way to alert his friends to the scam.
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