A few of my readers have written in regarding the fake kidnapping scams that have been running amok lately. Scammers are hijacking email and Facebook accounts and emailing the user’s contacts saying they have been kidnapped and desperately need money wired to them via Western Union to pay for a ransom.
Bridget wrote in with the following…
I am so grateful to get your emails. I read them all the time. I am really thankful that I read the one about the scam of being mugged in another country and asking for money because it just happened a couple of days ago to one of my best friends. However, it didn’t start out that way. Her email was actually hacked a few weeks ago before the scammers attempted to obtain money from her friends and it took on an interesting turn of events.
Here is what happened. A few weeks ago, myself and a few of my closet friends received an email from my friend containing a link to an online Canadian pharmacy from my friend’s email address. Shortly thereafter, we all received texts messages from her stating that she had not sent out any emails and that the email we received was not sent from her and to delete it. We all did that and made sure to check our computers for viruses. She did the same and she also deleted out all of her contacts. Her email address was a Yahoo email account.
However, just the other day, I received a telephone call from one of our mutual friends regarding her and then I received a text message from her stating that any emails from her were not true and to delete the emails. I immediately called her and she told me that when she tried to login into her Yahoo mail account, it would not accept her password. She also told me that a few of our friends were receiving emails from her with HELP!!! in the subject line and stating that she had been mugged in London and to send $2300 via Western Union.
While I was on the phone with her, another one of our friends called her and wanted to know if she was on Facebook because one of our friends was online via Facebook talking to her. It turns out the scammers were trying to pull themselves off as being her on Facebook. Apparently, her passwords were the same for her Yahoo mail account and her Facebook account. The scammers were attempting to reach her friends via Facebook as well. Of course, we all knew that she was not in London because we are planning to have her birthday party this weekend. Finally one of our friends called them out as not being her. Right after that her Facebook account was deleted. I know because she was gone from my friend list on Facebook immediately. It wasn’t deleted by my friend but by the scammers. My friend couldn’t access her Facebook account at all. She has since reported all of this to Facebook. She has taken other steps to prevent this from happening as well.
I just wanted to make you aware of what additional steps scammers are attempting to try and get money. I think it is important for people to know not to use the same password on all of their online accounts.
Also, I think it is important to know that scammers are attempting to obtain passwords by creating fake webpages. I have had my Myspace page hacked before. I believe it was called Phishering or something like that. Now whenever I get a message stating that my password is not accurate I close the browser and try fresh. I don’t ever try to attempt to re-enter my password. My Yahoo page has specific page settings to me only and whenever I open it up and it is not correct, I immediately close it and start over.
I think this was how my friends Yahoo email account was hacked. I also think the first email sent out was a test to obtain her email addresses and to see if people would actually respond to the link. Then they laid low for a couple of weeks. When they saw nothing going on, they decided to take it to the next level. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t know that she had such a close knit group of friends and that we all were planning her party.
This is absolutely appalling. If you receive one of these emails, get in contact with the person who owns the email address via a different medium other than the Internet. Make sure they haven’t actually been kidnapped and let them know their email and Facebook accounts have been hijacked.
Whatever you do, don’t immediately send off thousands of dollars overseas. You’ll never see it again.