I was sitting at my computer, catching up with a few friends on Facebook, when a chat window popped up. The name was one of my former students, someone I enjoy reading about, but not a close friend at this time in our lives. Still, I was pleasantly surprised—at first.
Apparently, this scam has been around for a few months now. You may have already been targeted. It’s just another reason to be a bit paranoid online (or in general).
At least this is an easy one to figure out. If the person knows you well enough to ask for a loan, they should be someone with whom you have some special shared memories. Just ask them some questions no one else could figure out.
Also, don’t forget to notify your friend that their account has been hacked. Time to change the password, at the very least!
Here’s our conversation:
Friend: Hi, how are you?
Me: Hi! I’m procrastinating… should be cleaning the house, etc. What are you up to these days?
Friend: Not good at the moment
Me: Wah. What’s up?
Friend: I’m stuck in London,UK
Friend: Got mugged at gun point last night
Me: Oh no!!!
Friend: all cash,credit card and phone were stolen
Me: That must have been terrifying
Friend: Thank God i still have my life and passport
Me: yes! the rest can be replaced, even if it’s a hassle
Friend: Return flight leaves in few hours but having troubles sorting out the hotel bills
Me: wow, in all our international travel, we’ve never had to deal with that.
Friend: Was wondering if you can loan me a few $$ to pay off the bills and also get a cab to the airport. I promise to refund it back as soon as I get back.
Me: well, I’m happy to. But Pete had someone try to con him out of some money with a very similar story, so he asked a few questions just to make sure the person he was talking to was the person he claimed to be. Like, what was my nickname when you were 15?
Me: and what was the nane of your group of friends, signed on the photo of you all that you gave me?
Friend: It’s me. this is for real, I’m doing everything I can to work my way out of here peacefully. I have checked with the consulate but there is nothing really working out, most important is I don’t have enough money on me. please i need you to loan mMe some i can pay you back in couple of days. Can you loan me?
Me: Nope. If this was really [my friend], you wouldn’t have hesitated for even a second. You would know the answers to both of those, instantly. Sorry. But now I have something to blog about…