URGENT: I would rather not devote a blog entry to what I would consider a “Public Service Announcement,” but I have encountered one internet scam twice now that is truly insidious. I do not wish my friends and readers (one and the same I imagine) to become victims of this, so I will outline the nature of the beast in this post.
You may at some point receive an e-mail from a friend’s e-mail address claiming that the person is in London or elsewhere and in need of money. The truly diabolical part of this is that the message is often from someone who you haven’t heard from in months anyway, and are therefore legitimately concerned about. It is truly uncanny how these scam-artists are able to do this.
What has happened is that the e-mail address of your friend, along with their address book, has been hijacked by hackers to serve their nefarious purposes of bilking you out of your cash. This hacking maneuver is called “phishing” (no relation to the band), and the scam is known as an “advance fee fraud.” This scam re-occurs with just enough regularity that you might forget about it.
So, if a friend writes you asking you for monetary help, make sure you contact them by phone or via an alternate e-mail to verify that it really *is* them! I suspect that internet-based e-mail services like Yahoo are at least slightly more vulnerable to this kind of thing. Heaven forbid you should ever get one of these from my Yahoo address….
Should you want to go the extra mile and report one of these in hopes the perpetrators can be apprehended, you might start by visiting this site on consumer fraud reporting.