I got an email from my friend the other day saying that he was on a contract in Africa working on HIV and youth education issues across three countries, and had had his bag taken with all his passport, money, credit card etc. He was getting temporary travel papers from the embassy, but it would take about 4 days and he owed about $2500 to the hotel and had no money for food. Could I transfer some money and he would pay me back when he got home?
Well, I've had a few people try to scam me but this was from a friend who might well be in this position. I've been stranded in foreign countries before under similar circumstances and both know how desperate a person feels, and also that the story sounds quite feasible eg the embassy in my experience provides papers but won't help with money.
It read a little stilted, but maybe stress?
Anyway I decided I'd better ring his family and see what they knew and check out Western Union, which is how he asked me to transfer the money. The woman at the Travelex, when I told her the story, said that I should beware - she had had another similar case a month before and it had turned out to be a scam. Someone had used an internet station somewhere and their webmail log-in had been cracked and used to access that persons full contact list.
I rang my friend's mobile, and he answered from his house near Wellington. It wasn't his email, he assured me, although he was aware of the problem and was trying to get hotmail to sort it out.
I almost fell for it, because it appeared to be from someone I knew, so beware. Anyway now I'm seeing how long I can string my new Nigerian friends along for.