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Scat scammers!

Five thirty in the morning is an unusual time to be checking mails, even for me. Ever since I have acquired an iPad , it seems the most natural thing to do even before my first cup of coffee.  So there I was signing in, expecting to find 15 emails, 13 of which would be forwards, one from my bank telling me of the wonderful opportunities to invest and one other from a random photo site offering some discounted photo book. I was right. Added to that list was another. Imagine my surprise when I saw the name of my Jipmer- educated- successful- pediatric- specialist- from-the- US- niece flashing in my inbox.

Naturally that email scored over the rest and I was inclined to click open and hungrily read the content of the email , especially since the subject sounded like an ominous harbinger of bad news. ( My horrible experience)

The only bell that rang in my almost awake brain ( remember I hadn’t had my first cup yet) was that of panic. This is what the mail said –

I’m writing this with tears in my eyes, sorry I did not inform you about our trip. We actually made a quick travel to Spain and unfortunately attacked and mugged at gun point on the way to our hotel, all cash, credit card and cell phone were taken away from us but luckily we still have our passport with us.

We`ve been to the embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all and our return flight leaves anytime 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.

Am freaked out at the moment and need help.

Now, it is not every day that you get such mails in your Inbox from nieces in the US. Naturally, my now alert brain was assimilating this information along with my heart, mind and soul. Was I the only relative that my niece had in the proximity of Spain? I could see I was marked a BCC, so I assumed that she had written to a bunch of others asking them too. She had a brother in the US, wasn’t the US closer to Spain than Singapore ? Will he have reached out already being 5000 odd kilometers closer than I was to Spain?

My first impulse was to hit the reply button and ask her if it was really her that was writing. I am a cynic by exposure to such mails from people unknown to me who seem to find my email from some place on the web and send me details of the number of millions that I have won on some freakish lottery! But this was not someone unknown. It was my niece! My second oldest aunt’s first daughters’ first child! (Saying it like that makes it sound almost like an unknown person now)

My second impulse was to show my husband the mail. He was already eying me suspiciously about what I was busy reading in the wee hours of the morning. He gallantly suggested that I immediately write to her and get a phone contact so that we could call her. The moment he said phone, I decided to wait till it was breaking dawn at Bangalore where my cousin lives. I called her to check if she knew of this unhappy incident with her daughter.  I didn’t get that far into the conversation.  The moment I identified myself on phone she said

“ It is a spam mail ”

My cousin was up from 12 midnight receiving calls from all the people that had mysteriously been marked the email in question. She said that the only good thing from this unfortunate incident was that, judging from the calls received, she was now convinced that there were several people in the World that really cared about her daughter!

Author’s note – Even though I may have written about this on a light note, the idea behind making this into a blog post was to create an awareness of such spam mails that have been making its rounds. Such mails are very unsettling and a waste of time. I googled and found out that this email specifically has been making its rounds since April 2010. And such emails written with the intent of conning and extortion are classified as 419 scams (That is easy to remember. One less than 420 which is fraud)

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3 thoughts on “Scat scammers!

  1. I thought these spams were older than 2010. I got this kind of mail from a friend, not even a relative. I knew the person was still in Bangalore when I got the mail saying that he got mugged in UK or something like that. There’s so many scams on the net these days..

  2. Thanks for blogging abt this Aarts. One of my accountant friends got this and was immediately inundated with phone calls. It was a relief to know it was spam.
    The scary part is that the email had given accurate details of his address, phone number etc.
    A very good reason to really have anti virus and anti spam software if you use windows based machines or switch unix/Linux based ones.

  3. Hi Arthi

    Though it may sound light, but you did conveyed a serious message for all us to be careful with the spams…

    You have penned them beautifully… what a free flow of words and thoughtfulness!
    Gr8
    Vidz

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