Don’t get tricked by fake emails asking you for money

Mar 29, 2018 | News

In this week’s story, Cyber Thief Sam impersonates a friend who’s in need of fast cash.

You receive an email that appears to be sent from a friend’s email account. It’s bad news.

Your friend is in Athens on holidays and was mugged at gunpoint. His wallet, cellphone, and money were all taken. He tells you that replacement bank cards will take 3-4 days to get to him and he’s desperate. He gives you details on how to wire him money. The email ends with him saying he’ll pay you back once this ordeal is over.

You think, “What a nightmare!”

Should you prepare that money transfer???

Don’t react immediately

Pause and take a second to examine this situation. You received a message that came from a friend’s email account, but can you really be sure he actually wrote and sent it to you?

It’s a good thing you questioned the email because, in this scenario, it was Cyber Thief Sam — not your friend — that wrote it. Sam “hacked”, or broke into your friend’s email account and sent a convincing message to people on your friend’s contact list asking them to send money to an account belonging to him.

IMITS Information Security says

  • Email accounts can be “hacked” (broken into) and account owners impersonated. This is a common method used by cyber criminals to trick people into wiring them money.
  • Think about your relationship with this friend. Does it seem weird that he would ask you for money out of the blue?
  • Is your friend actually on holidays? If not, it’s a huge red flag. Don’t trust the email.
  • Verify. Verify. Verify. If you’re still unsure, call someone that has a close relationship with your friend and ask whether the situation is true.

The moral of the story? Check the source of your emails. If they look a bit fishy, ask yourself if you’re sure you know where they are coming from. Don’t let Cyber Thief Sam fool you!

Stay tuned for our next article on in mid-April where Cyber Thief Sam takes advantage of passwords stolen from online shopping websites.

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