This e-mail scam has been around for a few years, but I thought I’d bring it up again because I received not one, but two of these e-mails in one day.  The e-mails work like this.  They say that a friend or a relative has been stranded abroad and needs money.

Below is an example of one that’s meant to imply that someone is in trouble while on a missionary trip. In a post on the AARP website, a volunteer at a non-profit group reported that scammers had used the e-mail address of the president of the group to e-mail volunteers a message that she’d been stranded in the Philippines and lost her wallet. Several volunteers responded by sending cash before the woman was able to warn them that this was a scam.

There’s this version that says the person has been robbed and needs help.

This may seem like an obvious scam, but the reason scammers have success is that they can send out literally millions of e-mails.  And sometimes they actually turn up in the inbox of someone who has a friend on a mission trip in the Phillipines or someone who really does know someone named Clive who might be in Cyprus.

I worked in a newsroom for many years and I remember the case of a woman who got an e-mail from a grandson on a camping trip who said he had been fined by park rangers in Canada and they weren’t going to let him leave the country until he paid the fine. Well, this poor woman actually did have a grandson who was on a camping trip in Canada. So she sent the money.  It was a scam. Her actual grandson was camping and climbing rocks, so he had no cell service and couldn’t be contacted.  The scammers just got lucky and hit upon someone with a grandchild on a Canadian camping trip.

Sometimes these scammers hijack a real person’s e-mail account and send pleas  for cash to all of their contacts, so be cautious. Just because it comes from a familiar address, doesn’t make the message legitimate.

If you receive a plea like this, don’t reply and don’t click on any attached links.  If you think an actual friend is in trouble, find another means to contact them.

~ Cynthia