Some of you have received, or may receive in the future, an email (or phone call) that goes something like this:
“I’m writing this with tears in my eyes. I came down here to London, United Kingdom for a short vacation. Unfortunately, I was mugged at the park on my way to the hotel. All cash, credit card and cell were stolen off me but luckily I still have my passport with me.
I’ve been to the embassy and the police here but they’re not helping issues at all, and my flight leaves in less than 3 hrs from now. Am having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let me leave until I settle the bills. I am freaked out at the moment”
The signature name is a friend, neighbor or family member of yours.
If you reply, they thank you profusely and tell you to wire via Western Union a specific amount of money (in one case $1,900) to help them. The person, because they are your friend, neighbor, family member, promises to pay you back as soon as they get home. That may cause you to think this is legitimate. It is not!
This is a Scam! Many variations of that email or similar phone calls continue to come in to our computers and homes. Another variation might be, “I’ve been arrested and I’m in jail in Canada” (or some other country).
Once you wire money in these cases, it is gone! You will not get it back. These are very difficult to investigate; local law enforcement agencies can’t because the money went out of the country.
Here are some tips from BPD detectives and our IT (computer) unit:
1. Create 2 personal email addresses. One is strictly for online purchases, downloaded music, etc. The other email address has your contact list.
2. When you send/forward emails to more than one person, send them as bcc (blind copies).
If you receive one of these Scam emails:
1. Don’t reply; don’t wire them money!! Call your friend, neighbor, family member (signee of the Scam email) and tell him/her so they can follow tips 3 – 6.
2. Add the scammer’s email address to your Blocked File.
3. Change your email address.
4. Contact those on your contact list and inform them you now have a new email address. Per IT, the Scammers only have the names/email addresses on your list; they cannot read the emails unless someone replies.
5. Place your “old” email address in the Blocked/Junk Mail.
6. Notify those on the contact list to place your “old” email address in their Blocked/Junk Mail.
I hope these tips save you and others the grief of thinking your friend or family member is in trouble in another country (and you didn’t even know they’d gone there), and the financial loss of wiring money to a Scammer.
Crime Prevention Unit
Boise Police Department
333 N. Sailfish Place
Boise, ID 83704