Email scheme resurfaces as dear friend asking for help


An old scheme appears to have re-surfaced.

Hawaii residents are receiving emails from friends claiming to be in desperate need of help. But the sender isn’t who you think it is, even if the email looks real.

A Kauai resident contacted Action Line with an email she received from who she thought was a dear friend.

“It seemed so real. It does. The story was good,” said Lt. John McCarthy, Honolulu Police Department. “But when you think about it, you read it a little closer, you read it a second or third time. Now you start to see. Is that how he really talks? Is that he really writes?”

The email’s subject line read: “Sad News.” In it, the friend explained why few people knew about his trip to the Philippines and that he had lost his wallet.

Then came the lure: “Our passport is in custody of the hotel management pending when we make payment.”

Then the ask: “I am sorry if I am inconveniencing you, but I have only very few people to run to now. I will be indeed very grateful if I can get a short term loan from you ($2,650). This will enable me sort our hotel bills and get my sorry self back home.”

“In this case, it appears they actually got into his email so they know his mannerisms, the way he’s speaking, so they tried to change it up a little bit, but still they go back to making the common mistakes in the grammar,” McCarthy explained.

Several people on Kauai received the same email, but no one responded fearing it was a scheme. They were right.

“Now they take over your email account. They have your password, so they look at your emails, they look at your history. They’ve stepped up ID theft to another degree,” McCarthy said. “Friend, family, they worry about them and they’re going to try to get them the money.”

The victim was unaware of the bogus emails and had no idea his name was being used as a part of scheme. He quickly changed his email address.

“Don’t just trust things. Verify it. Look at other things, other means, to see if it’s real or not. It may not be your friend. It may not be a friend and usually isn’t,” McCarthy said.

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