Dealing With Hackers and Scam Artists

This morning I received an email from Frume Sarah with the word Emergency in the subject line. Naturally I was concerned so I opened it up and read the following:

I’m writing this with tears in my eyes, my family and I came down here
to London,United Kingdom for a short vacation. unfortunately, we were
mugged at the hotel park where we stayed, all cash and credit card
were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with
us.

We’ve been to the Embassy and the Police here but they’re not
responding to the issue effectively and our flight leaves in few hours
from now but we’re having problems settling the hotel bills and the
hotel manager won’t let us check out until we settle the bills. Well I
need you to loan me 1,500Pound($2,450 USD)…will def refund it as
soon as we arrive back. I PROMISE!

You can have it wired on my details via Western Union

Name: Frume Sarah
Location:5 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7UT, United Kingdom

As soon as it is done, kindly get back to me with the Western Union
transfer details.

Am freaked out at the moment!!

Since I had read her post about attending the 122nd Annual Convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis in New Orleans I briefly wondered if she had been involved in some wild Mardi Gras type party which somehow led to her winding up in London. Ok, I really didn’t wonder about that but being a writer I had this image of 100 rabbis tearing up the bars in New Orleans and thought it would make one hell of a post. In fact, I have two friends who are rabbis who might have been a part of that, 25 years ago. And might I add that was long before they became spiritual leaders in the sense that you are thinking of, but I digress.

Anyway, since it was clear that Frume Sarah had been hacked I decided to play along and see what would happen. I started by googling the address that the hacker had provided just to see what came up. I found mention of a hotel on Westminster but nothing that matched the address. I then exchanged a series of emails with him/her. Here they are:

My initial response:

I have received your message and am talking with Lazer Wolf and Mottel Kamzoil about pulling funds from the Anatevka emergency fund. We had planned to use those dollars for purchasing a new milk cow for Tevye as his has gone lame but as you know we take care of our own and deal with the momzers that did this to you.

Because we need to handle this immediately I contacted Western Union. They told me that they need to have an alternate contact for you as well, preferably someone who is not in the states. Please send me that information and we’ll take care of it with the usual tradition.

Regards,

Perchik

P.S. Tzeitel says that she borrowed your best dress.

The Hacker:

You have to go there in person and have the money wire to my name when
you get to western union office,if you are being asked why you want to
send money,just tell them it’s for business purpose;the transfer
charges will be reduced.

Name: Frume Sarah
Location:5 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7UT, United Kingdom

As soon as it is done, kindly get back to me with the Western Union
transfer details

My response:

They told me that their policy is to have a secondary contact. Say, are Rashi and Moshe Ben Maimon still with you? Maybe I can use them or David Melech.

Hacker response:

You have to go there in person and have the money wire to my name when you get to western union office,if you are being asked why you want to send money,just tell them it’s for business purpose;the transfer charges will be reduced.

Name: Frume Sarah
Location:5 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7UT, United Kingdom

My response:

I don’t care about the transfer charges, only your safety. I have been fighting with Western Union for the past ten minutes. Simply give me the additional contact information and I can finish making the arrangements. I know that you are upset. This must be frightening for you, but give me the name and I can have that money sent.

I also sent an email to our mutual friend Mr. Hoover to see if his sister Eishes Chayil still lives in London because I thought that she might be able to get the money to you faster. It turns out that she and her boyfriend are hanging out at Shir Hashirim with Yitz Ben-Avraham and his mother Sarah.

The Hacker:

You will need to locate a western union office you can also wire the money to the hotel manager name ..Nurse Thomas
It will be good if you can locate a western union outlet around you or visit www.westernunion.com/locator

My response:

Tentatively our number is 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, & 42

I haven’t heard anything more from the hacker which makes me wonder if they recognized the numbers from Lost, are familiar with Western Union confirmation codes or working with some other rube. Correction, they just sent the following:

Let me know what is going here let me know if you are heading to the WU outlet now?
Thanks…

Naturally I replied:

I am at the Western Union depot working with Samuel Clemens on processing this transaction. He has asked for a cellphone number. Can you please provide?

So now we’ll wait and see what comes of this.

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