Action Line: Be wary of stranded travel claims
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
5/08/12 at 6:38 AM
Dear Action Line: (The following was emailed to Action Line from a hotmail.com address and is printed here verbatim):
"Sorry for asking like this but I have no other option. I had to travel to Spain for something urgent but now I am in a terrible situation here. Please i need your help with a loan of $2,700 (to sort myself out. I will refund you immediately I return this weekend. If you can help with this let me know so I can tell you how to get it to me and please keep this between us. - Leo and Molly."
So, do I know these people who are trapped in Spain and apparently know me well enough to ask for help? Are they old friends from my youth who I've forgotten about?
No. They're con artists who are trying to snooker me out of $2,700 in a ruse similar to the "favorite grandson is calling" scam. Such solicitations frequently go to seniors but not from Spain - more often from Indonesia.
The "Scambusters.org Annual top scams countdown" includes, for 2011, Item No. 10 - "Travel and vacation scams." It says that each year, the watchdog group hears of "a new crop of travel tricks." Also in 2011, global travel was hit by a volcanic eruption in Iceland. As well as triggering seismic activity, it sparked a number of scams including bogus claims of traveling Americans being stranded in foreign countries.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) July 2, 2010, posted a warning about "stranded traveler swindles." Claims of being stranded "swindled consumers out of thousands of dollars. IC3 continues to receive reports of individuals' email or social networking accounts being compromised and used in a social engineering scam to swindle consumers out of thousands of dollars. Portraying to be the victim, the hacker uses the victim's account to send a notice to their contacts.
"The notice claims the victim is in immediate need of money due to being robbed of their credit cards, passport, money and cell phone; leaving them stranded in London or some other location," IC3 says. "Some claim they only have a few days to pay their hotel bills and promise to reimburse upon their return home. A sense of urgency to `help their friend' causes the recipient to fail to validate the claim, increasing the likelihood they'll fall for this scam."
If you are a victim of this type of cyber crime, report it to the IC3 website at tulsaworld.com/InternetCCC The IC3 complaint database links complaints for potential referral to the law enforcement agencies for case consideration. Complaint information is also used to identity emerging trends and patterns.
IC3 is an alliance of the National White Collar Crime Center and the FBI. Its mission is addressing crime committed over the Internet and helping victims of Internet crime. It provides a convenient, easy way to alert authorities to suspected web crime.
For law enforcement and regulatory agencies, IC3 offers a central repository for complaints relating to Internet crime and provides a central point for Internet crime victims to report and to alert the appropriate agencies.
Original Print Headline: Plea from 'stranded traveler' probably a scam
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