Thursday, July 12, 2012

Internet Scam: Lost Passport Scam

This one is also referred to as the "Stranded Scam". This will come from someone you know - either a friend or at least an acquaintance that has your email address in their contact list.

What happens is that the scammer will get access to that person's email account, typically their yahoo, gmail, or They do this by using software that goes through all kinds of permutations of password combinations and once in awhile they will hit it right. The other more common way is they used "phishing" technique and gotten that person to reveal their password.

Once the scammer gets into the account, he sends out an email to everyone in that person's contact list. So it will look like it is coming from someone you know because it IS coming from the account of someone you know.

The email will have some story about they are traveling and their passport and cash got stolen and asking you to wire them emergency money to get home. You would not believe how many people actually do this. Who is there to pick up the cash? The scammer, of course, who then disappears and is untraceable.

My advice - if you get one of these emails, just CALL your friend before wiring any money and if you can't get a hold of them... don't wire money. Decide you are going to speak to them verbally before taking any action.


  1. Here's a great example of one of these scams that I just received this morning from someone who has my email in their contact list. I know her from one of my networking groups but that is it.

    Notice a couple of things in the below example (I altered the name to protect her): (1) the REPLY-TO address is VERY similar to the actual address but IS slightly different (missing one "m") - because the scammer wants replies to go to HIM not the owner of this account he hacked into, (2) notice how because he was in her actual account, he added her name to the subject line and to the signature line, making the email look more legitimate to those who receive it.

    My advice remains the same: do NOT wire money to anyone until you speak with them on the phone first to verify it is not a scam.

    From: Jane Morris []
    Subject: Awful Trip..................Jane M Morris
    To: undisclosed recipients: ;

    I'm writing this with tears in my eyes,my family and I came down here to London, United Kingdom for a short vacation. unfortunately,we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed,all cash and credit card were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.

    We've been to the Embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in few hours from now but we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills. Well I really need your financial assistance..Please, let me know if you can help us out?

    Am freaked out at the moment!!

    Jane M Morris
    Development Consultant
    Oak Tree Foundation
    415-555 -1444

  2. I meant to say the altered email is missing an "r" not an "m".