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A True Story of An Almost Perfect E-mail Scam Where I’m Involved

Three days ago I received an e-mail from my friend Roland Rodriguez who is a resident of Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines.

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The e-mail is titled “Sad News” and reads:

“Am in a hurry writing you this note, Just wanted to seek your assistance on a critical issue I’m facing right now as you read this, you are the only person i could reach at this point, and i hope you come to my aid. Because something very terrible is happening to me now, i need a favor from you now, I had a trip to Great Britain(U.K)

“Unfortunately for me all my money got stolen on my way to the hotel where i lodged along with my bag were my passport was, And since then i have been without any money i am even owing the hotel here.

“So i have limited access to emails for now, please i need you to lend me some money, spoken to the embassy here but they are not responding to the matter effectively, I will return the money back to you as soon as i get home, I am so confused right now.

“My hopes on you.


I have suspected that the e-mail account of my friend Roland was hacked, but I played along and immediately replied the following:

“Hi Roland,

“It’s sad indeed.

“Ok, please e-mail me immediately your bank account number, or the fastest way to send you the money, or your present address there in the UK, and how much money do you need.

“Once I received the info, I will immediately tell my secretary to send to you the money at your address or bank account.


Once I sent my reply, I called up Roland through his cellular phone, telling him about the e-mail that I’ve received supposedly from him.

He was greatly surprised, telling me that a few moments ago before I called, he received telephone calls and text messages from his other three (3) friends who also received the same e-mail allegedly from him, expressing concern about his safety and asking also where to send the money to him in U.K.

An hour after I sent my reply to Roland’s hacked e-mail, my inbox had another e-mail from the hacker, as follows

“Thanks for your reply, I am so glad to hear from you. I am stranded here in Middlesex right now. This situation i got my self into is really devastating, I need £1,380 (one thousand, three hundred and eighty pounds), I want you to send me the money so i can leave this place. It should be sent through a Western Union outlet or money gram shop, the details you need to send me money are

“Name: Roland F. Rodgiguez

Address: 15 Russell Road, Twickenham,

State: Middlesex

Country: United Kingdom,

Postcode: TW2 7QT

“Please help me write out the reference number given to you by the Western Union official and the details you used in sending me the money, or help me scan the receipt and attach and send to me. Thank you so much i would be waiting to hear from you.”


I did not send the money to the hacker. Roland’s three friends who had received the same e-mail also did not, as they first telephoned Roland to know what really happened to him.

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  1. Interesting story, Eli, and when it has a personal involvement, it makes it even more intriguing. I’ve heard of this scam before, and I’ve seen my spam folder filled with similar e-mails. Too bad some people fall for this scam, but the Eli I know is much too smart for such scammers.

  2. yup- that’s like the one I was talking about.

  3. I encountred an email just like this back in 2008 from a new blogger friend back then. At first I really felt pity for the guy because of that incident and wanted to help but I had no cash available to lend him so I just replied with an apology of not being able to help him at that time. This is scary because instead of using their skills to a good purpose, their using it to scam people. Tsk!

  4. These days are so horrible. Nasty and greedy people taking advantage over innocent people. Terribly sad. 🙁

    Thanks for sharing. It warns everyone who come to read this post especially those who are naive.

  5. That is interesting because a friend of mine got an email from someone (not me) that said that they were me. Luckily the friend figured out it was me I guess because of the content. It is horrible what people try to do. I always wonder how many times they get away with it or more to the point, get the money.
    Have a great day.

  6. And they think their trick will work on you, Atty? Nice try, LOL!

  7. I am wondering how could that person named Amy has exactly the same comment as mine. That is purely spam. I don’t quite understand why it showed up here.

  8. JuneZach, I already deleted Amy’s comment. I guess she just copied it from you verbatim and put her link. Horrible. Terribly sad. Spam.

  9. I also received emails like but some of them were telling that they were ill that they wanted to donate their money to a church or charitable institution and some where telling they were from a resettlement in Africa. I tried to play along with them but later on I stop communicating with them. These people really do try everything just to get others hard earned money. Good thing that there are bloggers who shares experiences like this and at the same time people get warned.

  10. Thanks a lot for looking that up for me Attorney! I was just shocked. How could one be happy if someone borrows his/her owns verbatim? LOL

  11. Spam! Good job in getting rid of it Attorney! Sad indeed!

  12. It is good you share this story. At least this will give me some precautions. Maawain kse ako and trusting kya minsan madali me maloko. Many thanks for this post.

  13. I received a same mail like that telling that Sir Sam was stock in England, same story..I play along with the sender even telling him that I send money to Western Union giving him a fake control number then he email me back that he went to Western Union and no money for him.. I laughed hard because he don’t even know I am also tricking him.

  14. Good info!

    I guess with the ongoing volcano eruption in Iceland and the stop of airplane flights in Europe this scam works (worked) out perfectly for these guys as thousands of persons have been stranded in airports.

    I could imagine that the next scams will be about earthquakes (as there will be many more) and abusing the real victims. 🙁 Sad!

  15. Those emails KILL me. Do people really fall for those? I hope not. One time I replied and put the most outrageous things I could think of in there… never heard back. Wahh!

  16. I was hit with this last Friday. I woke to phone calls from my elderly sister-in-laws and aunt wanting to know what was wrong and if we were ok. They got into 4 email accounts, changed the passwords. Got into my facebook account changed the password and defriended people that made comments to them about not being me. They said I was in London, had been mugged and barely survived, but I did still have my passport. They gave the address of where to send $1250. Have gotten two accounts back, still working on the other three. I always warn people about changing their passwords, but became very lacks because I had not been hit for over 10 years. Shame on me!! Hope people can learn from my experience.

  17. My friend who received the same email a few months back got both her FB and Yahoomail hacked. This is totally outrageous!

  18. Here’s how the Sad News scam worked when I was victim this week. The Nigerian hacker broke into my computer and contacts list. He then opened an email account using my address but with one subtle difference. The bogus address had an “l” instead of an “i” so that few people receiving a mail would not notice the difference. Anybody pushing the reply key and send, would be sending a message to the bogus email account and would then receive a reply asking for $1850 to be wired to me in manilla via the Western Union. The bogus email account must be de-activated ASAP and WU fraud informed.


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