Help – I’ve Been Robbed In The Ukraine!

Scammers are one of my pet hates, the only defence I’ve found is through continual learning about myself and about how they do what they do. I love watching TV shows or movies about scammers, helps me to develop an immunity to these pests. Way back last year I wrote a post about the online casino scam – “I Make Money Online, The Anatomy of a Scam”, and more recently about an email scam – “The Lady In Distress Scam”

Being negative and looking for the negatives – often I see people saying “always be positive” (myself included !). However it’s pretty dumb to always be positive, and overlook a very useful skill, that of the critic. Our critical appraisal is necessary and useful, in life and in business.

The email I received this morning is a prime example. It’s from a guy who’s a business acquaintance of mine, he did some accountancy/consultancy work for me. Whilst we’re on good terms, he’s not a friend in the classical sense of the word. We don’t share moonlit evenings, candle-lit dinners, long walks in the park or nights out in the pub.

I say “It’s from”, well actually it’s from a hacker/scammer looking to obtain money by deception – FRAUD.

DonCharisma.org-Scammer's-Email

When someone asks me for money, I pull it apart, I look at the angles, I look for any inconsistency. Why ? Because I don’t want to be giving my money away to questionable causes, scammers, con-artists, fraudsters or other undesirables. My money is for me, for my life, without it I may not be able to afford the necessities. What if I get sick or one of my loved ones get’s sick – who will help me/us ? It’s part of taking responsibility for myself. Part of being a grown up adult rather than a child.

Also in taking responsibility for myself, I’m influencing others, insofar that they find out pretty quickly they can’t get around me with bullshit. This makes me more secure in my life and able to weed out undesirables early.

People think me incredibly critical when they present their business ideas. But in all actuality it’s the exact same thing I’m doing. Tear it completely to pieces, if the business idea can stand, in spite of the criticisms – then it’s still a good idea, and it’s a go … otherwise ditch it. THE POSITIVE is that I/we don’t have to go through the whole process, waste our time and money on something that DOESN’T WORK or ISN’T VIABLE. Not because I’m a negative person, mostly actually trying to be helpful !

Anyway I digress – Here’s the email :

Sorry for any inconvenience, but I’m in a terrible situation. I came down here to Ukraine for a program,last night on my way back to my hotel room I was robbed at gunpoint, my wallet and other valuables were stolen off me, leaving my passport and life safe. My luggage is still in custody of the hotel management pending when I make payment on outstanding bills I owe. I called my bank for a wire transfer but it has proven almost Impossible to operate my account from here as they made me understand international transactions take 7 working days to be effective which i can’t wait. I will be indeed very grateful if i can get a loan of ($2,550) to settle out my hotel bills, I will reimburse you soon as I get back Home. I will appreciate whatever you can assist me with. Let me know if you can be of help.

All hopes on you.

[His actual footer was included – it’s the same as every other email I’ve ever received from him]

DonCharisma.org-morgueFile-Dodgy-Character

People unexpectedly asking me for money always starts the internal alarm bells ringing. Someone whom I have not a very close relationship with, especially so. He’s a business acquaintance, not a family member or close friend that I’ve shared swathes of my life with.

It’s possible he’s in the Ukraine “for a program”, but why doesn’t he say what the program is. If it’s a conference then why not say that, or a training course then say that. It’s intentionally vague, because it’s being sent out to multiple people. I mean if I’m asking someone for $2550, it’s likely they are going to want to know the details, not just a vague “for a program”. Also “program” is spelt incorrectly, yes a computer “program” is correct, but this is a conference or something like that, that would be a “programme”. My business acquaintance is unlikely to have made this mistake, he’s a professional person who deals with business correspondence day-in, day-out, has done all his life.

Ok, so he could have been robbed at gunpoint, there are some troubles in the Ukraine I think at the moment. So again why would he be in the Ukraine for “a program” with the problems there ?

It’s pretty dumb to be walking around with all one’s valuables, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. It’s possible they left him with his passport, and his “life safe”, thank heaven for small mercies ! … Odd that this only happened last night and now the hotel has his luggage “in custody of the hotel management”, plus I think it should be “in the custody of the hotel management”, for correct grammar.

The capitalisation of the “I” in “Impossible” is a bit fishy, could be done for emphasis, but the guy is supposed to be desperate so why not capitalise the entire word. Probably not a mistake my acquaintance would have made. Also international transactions don’t take 7 working days, and why 7 and not 5 – there aren’t 7 working days in a week, there’s 5. I very highly doubt that it’s not possible for a bank, for their customer’s emergency, to wire money quicker, much quicker.

I don’t think I’d use “take 7 working days to be effective” when talking about an international transaction, “to take effect” would be slightly better grammar. “which I can’t wait”, surely that should be “but I can’t wait”.

The whole sentence that pertains to the banking transactions is too long, full of grammar mistakes and inconsistencies. I’d suggest the scammer is thinking too hard on the end game of spending my $2550 !

The use of “I” and “i” varies in the email, correct grammar is “I”. Perhaps under pressure I’d make the same mistake. But again another tell-tale sign I’m looking at.

What about his family, why hasn’t he contacted them ? Presumably that would be most people’s first reaction ?

He goes on to ask for a loan of $2550, which is pretty hefty for a hotel bill! Last hotel I stayed in was maybe $75 a night, and this is the Ukraine we’re talking about not St Tropez. At $75 that’s 34 nights, and really why should I pay for him to stay in Ukraine for a month program !

Also this guy is British, his currency is pounds, British pounds, so why the hell is he asking for presumably American dollars. He also says “if i can get a loan”, a British person is unlikely to say “if I can get”, more likely “if you could loan me”. In a restaurant we’d say “Please can you bring me the bill”, not “Can I get the check”.

Then there’s a fishy downgrade of the money request down to please send me anything. So it’s gone from a large amount to begging for change. Do you need $2550 or not ? Then why downgrade it ? If you need $2550 you need $2550 not $10.

And why is the subject of the email “Ukraine Trip …….. [Acquaintance’s name]” … wouldn’t that more likely be – “Please help – I’ve been robbed” … isn’t the subject supposed to tell you what the email’s about, “Ukraine Trip ……” sounds like a plain boring business email … but perhaps therein lies the trick ?

“All hopes on you.” is the final statement – why don’t you try and make me feel like it’s my responsibility and all the pressure is on me. Without me you will die in the Ukraine …

… I mean come on, this is laughably not very well thought through and so easily to pull apart !

 

Summary

To recap – I received an email this morning from a business acquaintance, which in all actuality from a scammer/hacker. The email states that my acquaintance is in trouble overseas in the Ukraine. It paints a picture that attempts to manipulate me into sending money to the scammer(s). I use my critical and negative faculties to pull this email apart, how to spot a fake vs the real thing.

Conclusion

Writing prompt … Schmiting prompt ! … I just take what ever’s on offer – improvise!

Hackers and scammers are everywhere. Scammers play at heart strings. They spin stories which are plausible. They have a fair understanding of human psychology and use our “weaknesses” to attempt to get something for nothing, at best, at worst people have suffered torture or death because they’ve been tricked. Compassion not tempered with caution is just plain old stupidity. Compassion is often the “weakness” they are trying to exploit – our good heartedness.

Use of critical faculties, isn’t the work of unvirtuous people – critical appraisal is often wise, and in the individual’s best interests. Scammers and manipulators can only be only be thwarted by arming oneself with the necessary tools to detect and repel – such tools are based in negativity and critical appraisal. Using one’s critical appraisal in this way is turning a negative into a positive.

DonCharisma.com-logo-4

If you are worried about online security, you are welcome to contact us at DonCharisma.com. We can either act as consultants or provide an estimate for the work needed to make you more secure online.

 

It’s not all doom and gloom in the world – Don’t forget that the vast majority of people aren’t scammers. But being careful is prudent never-the-less.

Warm regards

Don Charisma


Resources & Source

“Dodgy” Character – morgueFile.com


54 thoughts on “Help – I’ve Been Robbed In The Ukraine!

  1. Love the way you wove that all together! I was not aware you offered services for consulting about security issues! :/ (sorry) – It is a good idea that!! – DEFO the right dude to deal with these things. YOu did after all help me salvage my laptop!! (and thank you again- yes I will keep saying thank you for that! – for reasons! 😉 )

  2. I mark them as junk mail and send them to the appropriate folder. Actually I don’t even open them. Probably a good thing with CLOSE friends would be a code word to use in case of trouble. There’s always somebody after a quick buck Don.

    1. For sure, and obviously I read emails from this guy … closer friends I’d have given a phone call or sent a text message, or might have even replied, but this guy I barely know him …

      1. Yes, you look twice when it’s supposed to be a friend, it’s the ones that start with, ‘Dear Mister Charisma, blessings. My name is Angel Mubote and I have 6 million dollars………’ They go straight to the bin. 🙂

      1. I think they may have accessed your email account via a Trojan and harvested your address book. Then they play merry hell with your life. They are definitely lying pieces of waste.

  3. I’ve had this happen to me Don. My computer had crashed so I wasn’t able to tell people I was not stranded in Scotland, but since it appeared on my Facebook page my family notified everyone on their public lists, which included a lot of my friends, so no one sent me any money to get back home. When I got my computer back I told them to just send it to me at home, but they laughed at me.

    This morning I received an email on my personal address from someone wanting to “invest” in my liquidated jewelry business. O K. Didn’t feel much like messing with their minds, so just read them their rights as a retired Federal agent. Could have taken the time to report them, but probably had already moved locations, so what the heck. And then the phone calls. I usually keep them on the line long enough to have them traced, but lately have just started reading them their rights. Funny how fast they hang up.

    1. LOL, yes a marketer contacted me recently wanting “free help” promoting his XYZ product … I said, my rates are $bla bla and estimated him $bla bla times five … guess what, he hasn’t emailed me back !

      AS for the hackers and the junk I can see why people feel so strongly about it 🙂

  4. Hi Don,
    I think most people have seen this scam before. Heaven help anyone who really does get in trouble, because we are just going to assume that it isn’t for real.
    Leslie

    1. For sure, I thought it might help some to have it broken down, so that the pattern could be recognised in other scams … and as some of my other commenters said, it’s often the gentlest and weakest that get caught out, which is in my mind absolutely vile, verging on evil …

      1. In actual fact it wasn’t you who got hacked it was the one who took all the address off someones email and you just happened to be on the list.
        Leslie

  5. The best is when these kinds of emails come from the account of someone you saw just earlier that day claiming they’ve been robbed in another country. I’ve had that happen.

    On a side note, given what’s been happening in the Ukraine these days, my guess is only the most adventurous risk-takers are going there for tourism reasons like “programs” at the moment, LOL.

    On another side note the “dodgy character” image from the morgue file sort of looks like a friend of mine, only my friend is a bit crustier, a sideshow performer rather than a scam artist, and definitely not in the Ukraine! 🙂

    1. Not actually happened to me, but yes, it would be doubly annoying if I’d seen them earlier … I don’t follow news/politics too much, I do know there’s problems there, which would make it a bit odd for anyone to be going there who’s a normal ordinary citizen … I think they put Ukraine to add to the seriousness and urgency …

      LOL, morgueFile, great resource for dodgy looking characters … and as you can see from my cartoon I used to have a beard, and oddly enough went through a phase of wearing a lot of rings, so could just as easily been a photo of me … I purposefully didn’t write SCAMMER in big red letters across it, because you never know who’s photo it is or where it’ll end up …

  6. These emails are so pathetic. But some people fall for them which make them dangerous. Glad you posted this. IT reminds me there was a family standing outside our church begging for money. They said they had nowhere to live, no money to feed their kids…it was all a lie. Tugging on the heartstrings falsely is something that drives me nuts.

    1. I’m the same Laura, using people compassion against them is in mind verging on evil … reminds me of the story of the boy who cried wolf, if you’ve ever heard it …

  7. Several years ago I received a similar email purportedly from a Canadian friend in England. Being a curious person of the investigative nature, (haha) I emailed him back and asked for the name of the hotel saying I would pay the bill directly. The con artist replied and said to send the money via Western Union. I then called the FBI. They took the info from the “properties” of the email. My friend’s email account had been hacked.

    1. For sure, and a very good defence, of course 99.99% of hotels would take a credit card payment over the phone … I’ve heard the same with beggars in London, that if you offer to go and buy them a cup of tea or coffee they will actually decline … why ? they aren’t actually in need of assistance just wanted the money …

  8. My country became pretty popular recently, so people like using its name to for a shocking sound. I laughed a lot! I remember one of my Japanese friends visited Slovakia, where he was beaten up for looking like Chinese, he was robbed too, but he didn’t carry a lot of money in his wallets. He was lucky.

    1. For sure it could happen in most places, getting robbed … I don’t follow the news too much, I heard that there have been some major issues in Ukraine, and yes I think they are using it as a way to make the scam seem more plausible …

  9. The first thing I noticed was the bad grammar as well. Fortunately most of these scammer emails suffer from the same affliction! I recently had a huge number of emails “from” the UN and the FBI – I always assumed these people were better educated!

    On the plus side, well done to Google’s Gmail – the email I got alerting me to this post was marked with a big red banner and all the hyperlinks were disabled – because you included the scammer’s text, it was marked as a “possible attempt to scam me” or words to that effect.

    1. Ah, thanks that’s very helpful … I think next time I’ll post one of these I’ll just include a screenshot of the email, I don’t want to get flagged as a spammer by gmail 🙂

      And yes I’ve had the same rubbish from perhaps nigerians, I guess some poor suckers must fall for this crap or otherwise they wouldn’t bother doing it …

  10. I’ve been concerned about a number of scam emails lately, some asking for money, sone saying various accounts e.g iTunes etc have been suspended & asking me to log in again. Like you I’m very cautious. I delete the email & go to the app or site. If it doesn’t say the same thing, there’s the proof right there.

    The worst one lately was sent to one of my clients (I work in mental health) She had an email telling her, that her test results indicated cancer.. it looked very official, It wanted her to click on the attachment, luckily she didn’t & told me. It was obviously a virus. The thing is she had just had tests, so you can imagine the distress.

    Well done for highlighting this Don.

    1. Welcome Amanda, and the most annoying thing about these morons, is that people who aren’t as strong as you and I get caught out … picking on the weak, is really the lowest form of crime, really cruel and pitiful …

      1. For sure hun … the only way I can justify it in my mind is that these people suffered or where abused themselves in some way … not saying that makes it right, just a way to mentally process it …

  11. A very good post Don. Unfortunately there are many scammers out there and they do operate in many different ways and try to catch our attention by using some heart felt stories.
    When I had my last company, I did receive a lot of scammer mails and even my English is not perfect, I was able to find a lot of gramma mistakes in their English.
    Maybe they wanted me to help them to get money out from a dead uncle or a bank and then they would pay me very well after the transaction, where I would need to pay something just to help them to get the money out of the country.
    The scammers are very creative and your are right, it is a very good idea to be awake, when strangers ask you for money.
    A real friend would call you in person, if they did need our help right now. If they were able of course. But those here are able to send us mails and have the time to wait for our answers, even they are close dying…….

  12. Oh no! I’m sorry to hear this has happened. If you would like to send me $2250 to rectify this situation…just kidding!

    Other then that I hope all is well and you manage to get to the bottom of this.

    Dan

  13. Thanks for this post. Somehow, scammers continue to pursue me. I enjoy the sweet love talk, but I also estimate what they will request. I always provide them with a wealth of information about me (blogs, website, curriculum vitae, and such). They obviously never read those, and when they ask for personal details, I reference them to what’s posted online. They always seem to think that they have me on the line and can simply reel me in. I am not a sucker! Bottom line, they are strangers.

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