Do Not Give Me Money!!!

money zombies
I am not stuck at a hotel, cash-less, and trying to get home ;) Nor do I have a $50,000 car for sale at only $15,000, or am I looking to share my wealthy inheritance from King Aboobowee over in a country who’s name I can’t even pronounce.  In other words, WATCH OUT FOR EMAIL SCAMS!

There are some crazy ass hackers out there right now getting into a lot of people’s emails – and I’m actually scared their tricks may be working (why else would they continue doing it after all these years?)  I’ve literally gotten THREE emails from personal, and blogger, friends of mine in the last two weeks stating their wallets were stolen and they need money asap.

While it may seem convincing at first (you know, because it’s coming from your FRIEND), do not fall for it!  These emails aren’t coming from our best buds – they’re coming from hackers pretending to be them. You know those zombie movies where evil bastards take over normal people’s bodies?  Well, it’s like that ;) Only they want your money instead of your brains.

Here’s an example of the latest one I received:

“How are you doing today? Hope you get this on time,sorry I didn’t inform you about my trip to United Kingdom for a program. It has been a very sad and bad moment for me over here and the present condition that i found myself is very hard for me to explain, I’m sorry for this odd request and I’m writing this with tears in my eyes, I  was mugged at gun point last night at the park of the hotel where i checking all my cash, credit cards and cell were stolen off me. I am even owing the hotel a sum $2000, the hotel manager won’t let me leave until i settle the hotel bills now am freaked out. So i have limited access to emails for now and i can’t access phone for now, please i need you to lend me about $3500 or any amount you can afford so i can make arrangements and return back I am full of panic now, the police only asked me to write a statement about the incident and directed me to the embassy, i have spoken to the embassy here but they are not responding to the matter effectively, I will refund the money back to you as soon as i return, I am so confused right now and thank God i wasn’t injured because I complied immediately. I need this help so much and on time because i am in a terrible and tight situation here, please understand how important and urgent i needed your help. so please let me know on time so i can forward you my details on how to transfer the money And let this be personal even if you can’t help because i don’t want people to be worried about me.

I await your response

If the horrible grammar doesn’t give it away at first (we all have friends who write like they’re on crack – myself included sometimes), the fact that they’re EMAILING you for this info should be a huge warning sign.  As well as the business-like response at the end, and the famous “don’t tell anyone I’m trying to trick you” type deal. We’re not 5 years old anymore.  Remember, these zombies have full access to our friends’ email accounts right now until they figure out what’s going on and can reset their password. So if you get one of these, CALL up your text your friend to let him/her know they’ve been hacked – don’t email them back ;)

A good rule of thumb to spot a scam right away is when someone’s asking for your personal and account information over email/internet. Paypal, USAA, and all the other banks out there that are legitimate business would never do this! Nor would I, so don’t ever give me money :) (Unless you’ve won one of my sexy giveaways – then you better give me your address or I’ll have to keep ’em for myself!)

Here’s a slighty “better” email scam…def. got me confused at first since it was the first on I’d seen:

“I’m writing this with tears in my eyes,We came down here to England for a short vacation and i was mugged at gun point last night,at the park of the hotel where we lodged all cash,creditcards and cell were stolen off me, thank God we have our life and passport.

I’ve been to the embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all,they asked us to wait for 3weeks but we can’t wait till then. Our flight leaves in less than 3hrs from now and we are having problems settling the hotel bills.

The hotel manager won’t let us leave until we settle the hotel bills. you can speak with him through this number +44702494501 we are freaked out at the moment

you can wire the money to me through westernunion all you need is Name on my passport and location below..

Name: [name of my friend – TRICKY!!!]
Location:60 Hyde Park Gate – Kensington London sw7 5bb Kingdom
Amount: $2,250

I’ll def refund your cash as soon as i get home.”

More convincing right?  This one uses my friend’s full name in it along w/ addresses & phone numbers that could very well be legit. They even use the urgency factor here to try and catch you off guard! But yeah, you get the point. I’m sure 99% of you would never fall for these to begin with, but in the off chance you are in the 1% I hope this makes you second guess :)  You’ve worked hard for your money, and I want to see you hold on to it! Don’t let these zombies scam you.

UPDATE: My friend who got hacked in that 2nd email there shot me an update:

“It sure does suck, thanks for informing people! I’m just glad I got my e-mail back, Gmail has this recovery form that’s pretty much crazy, but thankfully I knew enough esoteric stuff about my e-mail history to get it back. It was crazy they change all your password recovery stuff and everything. But lesson learned, keep my e-mail password unique to my e-mail only.

I was at a party this weekend and my “england crisis” came up and everyone was laughing about it and someone there told us a story about how their friend lost $7,000 to a scam like this. It’s really sad, you’d think it only effects the infirm or slow, but a surprising number of well-educated people and young college students fall for this.”

(Awesome zombie photo by Eric Ingrum)

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  1. michelle June 23, 2010 at 7:48 AM

    lol thank god my friends are too broke to travel abroad right now. don’t think id
    fall for this if it came through today, but thanks for the warning :)

  2. Everyday Tips June 23, 2010 at 7:54 AM

    I was actually going to write about this myself. I don’t know what I did, but I am now getting constant scam emails. I apparently have won a lot of things lately, my good response is required to get this or that. It is almost always international requests too. Thank God it all just goes to my junk folder.

    As you said, they are usually so poorly written that it would be hard to fall for them. But you never know. Some people are desperate and are willing to try anything to get some cash.

  3. Kristia@FamilyBalanceSheet June 23, 2010 at 7:59 AM

    Thanks for the warning. I haven’t seen this type of scam myself…yet. I have received email from facebook friends who have had their facebook hacked. The email says that you have to watch this amazing video. And the link that leads to a virus.

  4. Lazo June 23, 2010 at 8:23 AM

    Folks, I work for a bank (please don’t hold that against me — it is a small community bank).

    While these e-mail scams do exist and have crossed my desk, the ones we’re seeing more-so are the MAIL scams that people are being exposed to. I *STILL* do not know how their personal mailing addresses are being obtained, but mailings are originating in Canada and hammering the elderly heavily in my area. I had a gentleman that, on a weekly basis, was bringing in 10-15 letters. PER WEEK! Being a community bank, we are fortunate enough to have good relationships with our customers — they come in and show me what they have, ignoring the “please do not talk to anyone about your winnings”….CYA on their part. We forward them on as we’re supposed to, but nothing happens.

    If you folks are not sure…CALL your friend to see if they e-mailed you (EVERYONE has a cell phone). If you’re not sure about a “sweepstakes”, please take it to your bank. Banks can contact other banks to verify funds, and 99% of the time the bank on the other end is aware of what is going on.

    CYA. Plain and simple.

  5. Tyler June 23, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    Thanks for this post. It amazes me how many people don’t hit delete immediately. Although mainly for websites, I really suggest WOT (Web of Trust) for emails and links that look shady. You can install a plug-in too on Firefox. It saved me once when I got a legit BoA email that turned out to be a fraud.

  6. Panda Mike June 23, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    I also got a call from “my bank” the other day offering me a “free” credit report .

    they basically send you a free credit report and bill you for monthly monitoring services… just in case you would become a identity theft victim…

    I just hate spammers!

  7. Dawn June 23, 2010 at 12:24 PM

    I’m happy to say most of my friends use perfect grammar, and would even if they were stuck, cash-less and wallet-less, in a foreign country. :)
    Good post, though.

  8. J. Money June 23, 2010 at 12:26 PM

    @michelle – Hah! Well that makes it easy ;)
    @Everyday Tips – Exactly. Unfortunately it’s a lot of the older people getting fooled too :( They didn’t grow up with the internet, so if an email comes in from so-and-so why would they not think it was them? Every now and then we gotta help my wife’s mom as she’s always getting this crap. There are some really $hitty people out in this world.
    @Kristia@FamilyBalanceSheet – Yeah, that one sucks too! I feel for it myself….same with Twitter DMs and what not – the more we’re connected online, the more opps for these scams to try and find us. But hey, the internets do a lot of good too! :)
    @Lazo – Oh man, that sucks…I wouldn’t have ever thought to go to the bank with the info! Pretty smart. Thanks for sharing that bro.
    @Tyler – WOT? Interesting, I’ll check it out :) Gonna go grab that add-on too. Love Firefox!
    @Dawn – Haha, nice… can’t rile them off their game!

  9. Rainy-Day Saver June 23, 2010 at 12:35 PM

    A friend of mine recently got the “I’m stuck in the U.K. please send me money” scam email. Luckily, she realized there was no way this friend, a fellow writer, would have written an email with piss-poor grammar (no matter how frazzled she could have been).

    Me, I’m a skeptic at heart, so I don’t believe any of this crap. Plus, I like to do a quick search on the Internet for scams similar to any emails I may receive, just to confirm it. It’s like those chain emails I get from family/friends — 99% of the time, they’re hoaxes (thank you, Snopes!)

  10. ctreit June 23, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    Sometimes I read these scam e-mail for my own entertainment. But I am always amazed when I read that people get suckered into this stuff though. I suppose these e-mails would not exist anymore, if they did not give the writer some sort of success.

    Your friend was staying at 60 Hyde Park Gate – Kensington London sw7 5bb Kingdom, eh? Do you know if that kingdom is the United Kingdom or the Kingdom of Far Far Away?

  11. J. Money June 23, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    Hey guys! One of my friends who got hacked w/ that 2nd email up there shot me an update. Pretty interesting stuff…sad, but crazy to see how it can affect people. I went ahead and added the update at the bottom of this post so be sure to check it out if you’re interested ;)

    @Panda Mike – Spammers will be meeting with a very naughty person when they leave this earth, don’t you worry.
    @Rainy-Day Saver – Smart!!! No harm in doing a quick google search that’s for sure. Esp if you’re about to drop major money!
    @ctreit – They are somewhat entertaining, I’ll give you that ;) But only until you find out someone you know got scammed.

  12. StackingCash June 23, 2010 at 5:29 PM

    It is sad that anyone can fall for scams like that. It is a good reminder to try not to depend on the internet for anything these days. You mention the elderly being scammed, but it seems like the young might be just as susceptible because they greatly rely on internet services like online banking and Facebook. I find it scary that online accounts can be hacked so easily. I love online banking, but I’m very leery about it now after seeing an email account and your blog being hacked. Even more terrifying are people’s reliance on smartphones to do online banking and emailing. Privacy is very important, don’t put too much on the net folks.

  13. Bucksome Boomer June 23, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    Our newspaper had a story about a woman getting this same type of scam email from her “grandson”.

    I can see sending money for a loved one, but it’d be hard for me to even think about doing so for a friend. (Wouldn’t you wonder why they didn’t contact their family?)

  14. Nunzio Bruno June 23, 2010 at 10:53 PM

    That is some seriously crazy stuff. That second one looked all to real – I’m glad to hear that your friend got their email back. We (financial bloggers) write about money, budgeting, and financial planning all the time but I haven’t seen an article about identity protection and how to not fall victim to it in a while. Nice work!

    I loved the zombie reference and pictures kind of reminds me of my early college years and those sad calls home I’d have to make after an unexpectedly expensive weekend…ohhh the fall of 2002 – that was some fun times.

  15. ken June 24, 2010 at 12:30 AM

    I like how in the first spam mail it says “I can’t access phone for now.”
    What company would stop you from making a phone call if it meant they get their money?

  16. Jerry June 24, 2010 at 6:20 AM

    We use craigslist all the time and get scam responses constantly from there. I also get them regularly in my spam e-mail. I guess you’re only insurance for not getting taken in by these scammers is to use common sense. If it seems at all strange it’s because it probably is. If it leads you to scratch your head wondering about certain aspects don’t act on it.

  17. Khaleef @ KNS Financial June 24, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    I honestly can’t believe that people will fall for something like this – after all of the publicity these scams have received. I’m still getting emails about me winning drawings and lotteries that I never entered!

    I am the treasurer of an orphanage in Haiti, and our president’s email account (the one tied to the orphanage) was hacked and one of these “I’m stranded in [insert country]” emails was sent to many of our donors and potential donors. Needless to say, this cost us in many ways!

  18. David H. June 24, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    This just happened to my fiancee’s mother about 2 weeks ago. First they got her MSN Hotmail / Live e-mail account. Then they figured out she had the same password for gmail and facebook and hacked those too. They all used the United Kingdom story. Thankfully no one sent any money in. She got the gmail account back the quickest after filling out one of the request forms then facebook then hotmail. Apparently microsoft didn’t want to help because it was a free versus a premium account.

  19. J. Money June 25, 2010 at 7:13 PM

    @StackingCash – Interesting way to look at it for sure…esp when most of us are posting up all the times we’re away from home and every last detail! Remember that one site that was out there? Something like or around that? I think it was bought out by a consumer watch group, but it used to aggregate all the tweets of people who would “check in” to different places on foursquare – basically telling everyone that they’re not home and to “come rob them.” Haha….crazy.
    @Bucksome Boomer – Dang, people fall for it all the time! :(
    @Nunzio Bruno – Haha…that was the year I got OUT of school! With $0.00 in my pockets and a big dream to make it in NYC ;) I got half of that right at least – I did move to NYC!
    @ken – Indeed :) Plus, I would like to think that if you somehow had access to a computer you’d easily have access to a telephone. $hit, I bet these emails are written on iPhones! That would explain the grammar.
    @Jerry – Yup! Only problem is a lot of people don’t use their noggin’….esp me, but luckily not when it comes to money ;)
    @Khaleef @ KNS Financial – Woah, really? Do you live in Haiti too? That’s sad man, sorry to hear :( (about the hacking, not about if you live in Haiti. Although, I am sorry to hear all that sadnes too! did any of that I just say make sense?)
    @David H. – Microsoft is still around? :)

  20. Sam June 27, 2010 at 5:40 AM

    I have gotten these emails SO many times I can’t even tell how many exactly I received. Most of them were asking for my personal/bank information because they needed help “claiming their inheritance” and such. And you’re right, it must work because I started getting these emails years ago, and I still receive them to this day.

  21. J. Money June 27, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    They’ll be coming ’till the end of time, I’m afraid… we just gotta always keep our eyes open!

  22. June 29, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    I think the emails and too long and drug out to make them believe able. I know if anyone I knew was in that position there were be more ‘panic’ in their message. Sure there would be misspellings and improper sentence structure. My goodness, they just got mugged in a foreign country and are now stranded there. They would be a mess….

    Thanks for the heads up!