Dear sir/madam

Christ on a bike. My email got hijacked. Oh, yes. Not my regular nickname email-to-friends one. My serious, real-name, send emails to serious people one. So I was locked out (they changed my password, the beasts!) and to everyone in my SERIOUS EMAIL CONTACT LIST, they sent the following message, with the header "i need your help please!!!"

" How are you? hope every thing is ok ? Just wanted to seek your help on something very important, you are the only person i could reach at this point, and i hope you come to my aid. because something very terrible is happening to me now,i need a favor from you now,I had a trip to the African on some works."

This email went to my boss, by the way, the very day I called in sick with some kind of nasty stomach bug. She must've thought "Oh, yeah, sick, sure… not IN THE AFRICAN??" And on some works? Now she's thinking "We didn't send him anywhere! He must be doing some work in the African ON THE SLY!!!".

"Unfortunately for me all my money got stolen at the hotel where i lodged along with all my belongings also with my passport ,and since then i have been without any money i am even owing the hotel here thats why my telephone service is disconnected so i have only access to emails for now because my mobile can't work here,"

Which doesn't make any sense, does it? How do I have no access to a telephone, but access to email? I'm no technical genius, but I'm sure they're linked somehow. Maybe I got the email from a free cyber cafe, I hear there are lots of them in the African, where I am on some works.

"so i didn't get it along,"

Indeed I did not.

"please i need you to lend me about 1,500 so i can make arrangements and return back please,"

Woah, 1,500 whats? Nice non-use of currency symbols, although if I'm actually from Zimbabwe, joke's on you, suckers!

"i have spoken to the embassy here but they are not responding to the matter effectively, I would return the money back to you as soon as i get home, I am so confused right now."

Oh, ain't that the truth.

"I have made inquiries and was able to find out that you can have money sent to me through a service called Western Union Money Transfer."

I'll point out here that this also went to my bank. And my debt management agency, who were very concerned. My bank told me they would be happy to arrange a loan.

"Please i will be waiting to hear from you as soon as possible. And please scan and attach the copy of the Western Union Money transfer to me or you can put it in writing by sending me all the informations you used in making the payment via western union to able me collect the money down here."

I'm not sure of the mechanics of this scam at this point. Presumably the scammee replies and "I" give bogus details for a collection in… let's assume Nigeria, to pick a country at random.

"Thank You. "

No, thank you, brave scammer.

Luckily, few people were fooled. I wrested control of my email from them (they changed the password, the fucks!) and now I'm in the process of cleaning up. I mean, sure, some have volunteered cash and, because it would be rude to refuse, I have given them details and now I have £1,500 of their money. My favourite reply has come from my bank – the Co-op Bank, lovers of financial institutes with a sense of humour – who said this: "Thanks for letting us know. Glad to hear you're not in the unpleasant, but slightly unconvincing, situation described by the scammers!"

Anyway, from now on, all my passwords will be dotted with random numbers. This must not happen again!

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