Wednesday, June 17, 2015

International Scam Day

Apparently it's International Scam Day.

I've been touched by two different scams today. The first is a pair of messages on my answering machine telling me the IRS is filing a lawsuit against me and that I need to call a specific number immediately.

I haven't called.

The second has been a bit more fun.

I received an email today purportedly from a well-known crime fiction writer. We've swapped a few emails over the years and, more importantly, he recently accepted a story for a reprint anthology he's editing. I know his computer crashed a few days ago because he contacted me for some information about the story that he already had but had lost when his computer crashed.

So, I didn't think too much about it when I received an email from him today with the subject line "Emergency."

It read:
I haven't received any response from you. I need a favor ASAP. 
Thank you, 
My response:
I sent publication info and word count for "City Desk" a few days ago. Is this something different?
His response:
Good to hear from you. I hope everything is well with you. I've been out of town for a family emergency, I am presently in Mexico City, Mexico. My apologies for not contacting you sooner. Please forgive me to Mexico to see my ill cousin who lives here. He is seriously ill and needs support from family. He was diagnosed with (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) He has been going to chemo for about year, it pretty bad because his chemo treatments with medicare is $1000 per Every two weeks. The chemotherapy treatment was going well until last week, when the doctor noticed that the dangerous disease has relapsed and the only way it can survive is to undergo a bone marrow transplant (Bone Marrow Transplantation). We have seen someone whose bone marrow matched his has agreed to be the donor and should be submitted to the registry soon in Mexico Medical Center Hospital for early Dx and Rx Consultation for Dangerous Diseases. The estimate of the graft is $10,000 I've already spent about $7000 toward his treatment, I need you to help me with a quick loan of $3000 to make the necessary treatment. as I don't know your financial situation at the moment, I'll really appreciate whatever amount you can come up with, if not all will be deeply appreciated and reimbursed after the surgery. Your help and support will give him a chance to live a normal life. Please let me know how much you can lend so that i can provide you the transfer information to obtain the money and I'll repay you back as soon as I return. 
Thank you, 
My response:
Sorry I didn’t back to you sooner, Ed, but I had to run this past Guido. He says you still owe him the 25 large he fronted you last month when you swore the fix was in at Churchill Downs. Now that he knows where you are, he’s going to send a couple of guys to collect the money. You’d better have it. Remember the last guy who missed paying the vig on time? Everybody calls him Seven-Finger Jack. You can probably figure out why.
I have not received a response from the scammer, but I'll update this if I do.

Update: I tried to contact the crime fiction writer at his real email address to tell him about this. Both of my emails have been rejected by his email provider. Does he know what's happening in his name? And if he can't receive my emails, how will this impact our working relationship as the reprint anthology moves forward?

June 27, 2015

Today's email from the scammer:
How are you, Sorry for any inconvenience, I'm in a terrible situation. Am stranded here in Manila, Philippines since last night. I was hurt and robbed on my way to the hotel I stayed and my luggage is still in custody of the hotel management pending when I make payment on outstanding bills I owe. Am waiting for my colleagues to send me money to get back home but they have not responded and my return flight will be leaving soon. Please let me know if you can help and I will refund the money back to you as soon as I get back home.
Please let me know if you can help..
Best, Ed
I won't be sending a response, but here's the one I thought of sending:

Guido's upset that you slipped out of Mexico before his guys could get there, Ed, but the beatdown you received there in Manila is just a taste of what you can expect if Guido doesn't receive repayment soon. Count your fingers now, Ed. This may be your last chance to count to ten.


Kevin R. Tipple said...

If you send me what you are trying to send him I could try. Sometimes Verizon stupidly blocks certain folks from sending me e-mail.

John Chabot said...

Man, his message to you was so beautifully worded, how did you ever see through it? Experience, I guess. Loved your answer. Now I'll know how to respond the next time I get one of these.


Sandy in St Louis said...

You get way better begging letters than I do. Poor Earl Staggs was stranded in the Phillapines and didn't word his with nearly as much elegance.

Glad to see Guido's got your back!

Bill Crider said...

He knows. He was able to post to Facebook.

Earl Staggs said...

I see they've changed their scam a tad. Over the past few years, I've received six or eight emails from people whose names I knew saying they were on vacation, were mugged, and needed money. And as Sandy said, one went out in my name saying it happened to me when I was in the Philipines. I simply deleted the ones I received, but I like your approach better, Michael. Might as well have some fun with it.

Michael Bracken said...

Thanks, everyone. Though my response was fun, I realize I probably shouldn't have responded at all. Now the scammers know my email address is valid and they know what my sig line looks like, making it easier to spoof my email.

Of course, that still doesn't give them the ability to write grammatically correct sentences.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Maybe Guido would like to meet the dozen or so 25-year-old females who saw my profile on a dating site last week and are sure I'd be fun to hang out with. I am, actually, but I was sorely tempted to write back revealing that I'm a 71-year-old female
psychotherapist (my other hat, much more off-putting than "mystery writer," don't you think?) and, to quote a classic punchline, "Oy, have you got the wrong number." But I too have heard that responding validates your email address for the scammers, so I've resisted the temptation.

Susan Oleksiw said...

I got the same email and didn't answer, but I did send a note to Ed, using his other email addy, to let him know. My email didn't bounce back but I haven't heard from Ed in a couple of days so perhaps he's busy helping out his relative in Mexico, or maybe negotiating with Guido.

Kaye George said...

But aren't you just ITCHING to edit that letter and send it back with corrections? I know, very bad idea for several reasons. But still...

(LOVE your response!)