UPDATE: Fish on! Our scammer is interested, and look where he wants us to send his money...
We've written ad nauseum but with no apparent effect about the scurrilous dogs who prey on the good nature of older folks and others with a variety of carefully composed and worded Internet scams all designed to separate good people from their money.
Dozens of Lamorindans have fallen victim to the scammers and that really cheeses us off, so when we received the latest iteration of the "I Was Robbed While On Vacation and Need Money to Get Home" con, we decided to play along and see where it took us.
For those of you who haven't heard of the con, it starts with a hacked email account and a panicky letter like this one, with the hackee's name and info omitted -- of course:
I really hope you get this on time. I didn't tell you about my visit to Spain with my family for a short vacation, but unfortunately we were robbed at the hotel where we lodged along with other folks. We did not bring our phones here and the hotel telephone lines were disconnected during the incident. So we have access to only emails. Please I'm going to need some sort of loan from you for us to relocate to another hotel close to the embassy and also to get another flight ticket. Those thieves made away with our credit cards as well which is why this can't be resolved instantly.
We have been to the Embassy and the Police here are not helping issues at all and our flight leaves tomorrow..Please, Let me know if you can help us out?
I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
Ralph XXXXX, XXXX N California Blvd, UnitXXX, Walnut Creek, CA 95496-4458(925)938-XXXX
Got it? As it happens I know this person (the hackers send this email to everyone on Ralph's email contact list) and the initial instinct is, of course, to lend a hand. But Ralph and his family did not go to Spain, are not in any sort of trouble, and are in fact safe and well in Walnut Creek. The grifter is hoping Ralph's friends don't know that.
To get us to wire money, usually to the tune of $2,000 to $3,000, to a Western Union wire transfer station -- possibly in Spain, we don't know, yet. That money, of course, would be untraceable once wired and once received by the grifter, would never be seen again. Interpol and other police agencies estimate the con nets billions -- with a B -- each year.
Being worldly and very Patchy, we recognized this morning's con for what it was and responded with a breathless, eager-to-help missive back to the con artist, asking how we can help. Having had experience with the con and not having a Patch in Barcelona it is doubtful we'll be able to put the grifter where he or she belongs -- in irons -- but we intend to have some fun and we'll update this story as it develops.
Let's see where it takes us. Perhaps others will get a little insight into how the con men (and women) work.
Fish On -- Let the Game Begin
Within 20 minutes of our communication with "Ralph," we received this:
Thanks a lot for your willingness to help..Western Union happens to be a quicker means of sending the cash, and please bear in mind that I'll facilitate your reimbursement as soon as will get back home.all we need is €1,550 1,935.34 USD.All you have to do is to locate a Western Union outlet or you can transfer online by using your Credit card to log on to westernunion.com and get the money transferred in my name. Please use the details below to send:
NAME- Ralph XXXXXAddress: Narvaez 69 - Esquina Calle Sainz De BarandaCity: MadridZIP Code: 28009Country: Spain
Just help me write out the MTCN/Reference number and other necessary details. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
I'll bet you are looking forward to hearing from me, bud. We're checking but we believe the Esquina Calle Sainz de Baranda is a mail drop in Madrid. Just under $2,000 -- we were off a bit on the extent of your greed.
He follows up with:
Please you very much, Just help me write out the MTCN/Reference number and other necessary details. I'm looking forward to hearing from you. MTCN Western union control number is the reference number that will be giving to you by the outlet or bank.
Suddenly, "Ralph's" English starts to break down. I ask a few questions and he doesn't like what he's hearing. But he likes that we drew the money -- $2,000 -- out of the bank.
Thanks for your mail earlier, The address i gave to you is western union address to pick up the fund ASAP. just a locate a outlet, Bank or shopping mall. you can transfer on my name
So, after some questions about his wife and children -- which the scammer never answered -- we told him his money was on its way. His answer:
Now, if he hangs on, we're going to work the old California Con on HIM, upping the ante and bouncing him around town.