Scam alert! Yes, folks, the Internet cons have figured out yet another way to get us to willingly give up our money for a “good” cause, in this case helping a stranded friend. In the past eight weeks, I’ve heard parallel stories from three independent sources, one in Playas del Coco and two in the United States, whereby people’s email address lists are captured by the scammers and used to send out letters to contacts on those lists. In these three cases, all female, the emails state they are in London, England, have been mugged and robbed and need money to pay hotel bills and thus retrieve passports and purchase tickets back to the U.S. or Costa Rica. The sum requested has in all cases been less than $3,000, and the email contains a link through which the funds can be transferred.
As best I can determine, the three women who had their address lists stolen have only a few things in common. They travel regularly and often without their husbands, use a surname different than their husband’s, and are fairly affluent. The scam may be much broader, however, as this sample is very small. The genius of the con is the seeming inside knowledge the scammer has, and that the amounts being requested are low enough to be realistic. Please be aware and spread the word.
Looking ahead, Woody’s is sponsoring a Barbecue Cook-off on April 1 (no fooling!). Look for further details in this column.