Online scam has public figures begging for money

Con artists hack into well-known people’s email to send appeals for help

“How are you doing? I just want to let you know about my husband's surgery. We travelled to Spain for his operation, he has been having this chronic kidney and heart problem. The doctor has placed him on a temporary treatment now, as we don't have the needed deposit fee. The doctor is asking 2,800 euros as the deposit fee, we travelled with little cash as we didn't know things would turn out like this. I don't know your present financial status but I will appreciate whatever money you can give or lend. Western Union money transfer seems to be the safest and quickest option.”

This message comes from a well-known Emirati blogger, and was sent out from her personal email account. Although the woman had not travelled to Spain and knew nothing of her husband’s ailment, her contact details mentioned in the mail were correct.

“This must have been written by someone who knows me well,” she says.

Her email account was hacked and used to make an appeal to people willing to help.

Most often, the person in need of help is outside the country. An unfortunate event has taken place and the person makes an appeal to you, as you are included in his list of email contacts. Most probably, you know the person. If not, he or she may be a public figure. And most people often assume that a well-known person would not do anything illegal.

A well-known Dubai Financial Market employee recently got into serious financial trouble. In London, where he had gone for an urgent business trip, he was robbed of all his cash and mobile phone. He was now unable to pay for his hotel or flight and neither his country’s embassy nor the police were willing to help him.
 
“I know this person and I know where he works. He would certainly not need my help to resolve such a problem,” says S Kumar who received an email from this person.
 
Tamer Al Qadri, Hor Al Anz branch manager of Abu Dhabi National Bank, was also similarly conned. “Somebody must have hacked my email account. I have heard from several customers that they have received emails in which I asked them for money.

“The scary thing is that this person may be somebody very close to me,” he adds. “Some of the information in the mail is correct. But it is not me.”

(Home page image courtesy Shutterstock)

 

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