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I am the fourth person that I know about in our congregation to have my email hacked in the “I am stranded in London” scam. One of my friends got taken for $4,000, just as some friends of the other hackees lost thousands of cash dollars.
Every time one of us gets hacked, these criminals get hundreds of new emails to hack at. Ninety percent of these emails are likely to be UUCA congregants. So, please, everyone: 1) Be aware of this scam 2) Change your password. Protect your online accounts with difficult passwords, not easy ones and change those passwords from time to time.
The London scam works well and it is being used from India to Atlanta. Here is the text of the scam:
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "mj schmelzer" a href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mar 9, 2011 9:18 AM
To: Undisclosed Recipients
Hope you get this on time, I made a trip early this week to London, UK and had my bag stolen from me with my passport and credit cards in it. The embassy is willing to help by letting me fly without my passport, I just have to pay for a ticket and settle Hotel bills. Unfortunately for me, I can't have access to funds without my credit card, I've made contact with my bank but they need more time to come up with a new one. I was thinking of asking you to lend me some quick funds that I can give back as soon as I get in. I really need to be on the next available flight.
I can forward you details on how you can get the funds to me. You can reach me via email or May field hotel's desk phone, the numbers are, +447024034361 or +447024074344.
Note: the “To” in many versions is to undisclosed recipients (big clue). There is no mention of my husband or close relatives that could reasonably be expected to pony up.
When an account is scammed as mine was, people are generally either locked out of their account or the account is unavailable somehow. This was my experience. It was not possible for me to alert people via email. I managed to call the church and all the relatives I could think of (phone trees are helpful here).
Again, be aware of these and other scams and the sophisticated network of criminals using email and social networks to sting us. And change that password.