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Remember me to Leicester Square September 8, 2011

Posted by klondykewriter in Uffish Thoughts.
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Uffish Thoughts: Remember me to Leicester Square

By Dan Davidson

August 8, 2011

– 820 words –

Whitehorse Star & Klondike Sun

 

The identification line on the message at 8:30 this morning was from a person I knew, a former student of mine.

The subject line said “Very Urgent”.

I didn’t have a good feeling about the message but I opened it to confirm my suspicions.

“Hello,

“I’m writing this with tears in my eyes, i came down here to London, England, for a short vacation and i got mugged at gun point last night at the park of the hotel where i lodged all cash, credit cards and cell were stolen off me.”

That much of the message confirms it as false right away. It’s the same scam that used Gordie Tentrees’ email address a few years ago, and that another Dawsonite here saw played on a friend of hers from Vancouver later on.

Note the lack of a personal reference to me, the vagueness of everything but the problem. Note also the really poor grammar. I was this guy’s English teacher, for heaven’s sake. He’d be embarrassed to send me anything that poorly written.

The rest of it is a bit of boilerplate that you can find repeated on any one of a dozen websites that outline “the London mugging scam”. The city and continent may vary, but the details are just about the same. The Microsoft Word grammar checker is having conniptions, but I’m leaving in the typos and the incorrect punctuation so you can see it as it appeared.

“I am even owing the hotel here,the hotel manager won’t let me leave until i settle the hotel bills now am freaked out.So i have limited access to emails for now, please i need you to lend me some money so i can make arrangements and return back I am full of panic now,the police only asked me to write a statement  about the incident and directed me to the embassy,i have 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.i wasn’t injured because I complied immediately.

“I will be waiting to hear from you.”

Hmmm. What hotel? If they were allowing him Internet use, why wouldn’t he be able to make a collect telephone call? Who did he talk to at what embassy?

I replied to tell him he was a fake.

By this time I had spoken to my former student’s mother, who lives here in Dawson and attends my church. I felt she should warn her son, who lives in the USA, what was going on. I wasn’t the first one to contact her about it, and later in the day she got her own plea for assistance.

He replied to me shortly after, in increasingly non-North American syntax, that this was all for real and that $1700.00 wired to his name via Western Union would enable him “to get myself out of this place.” The only thing missing was the ticking clock, a reference to some finite amount of time by which he had to pay some money or lose his airline ticket (or some other catastrophe). This, apparently, is often fixed at two to three hours.

This hotel, unnamed, is supposed to be at “ 70 Leicester Square London  United Kingdom WC2H 7LA”; however. Google Maps shows that to be the location of a Macdonald’s outlet. Various street numbers along Leicester Square are used in a number of scams, from this one, to those fake notices about your email address winning you the UK Lottery. Is this because we all know that name from the song, as in “Remember me to Leicester Square…”?

The Western Union money transfer is apparently one of the least secure means on the planet to transfer funds, so it is often used in romance scams, business scams and “help me” scams of this type. Apparently Western Union will hand over the cash to anyone with what appears to be a proper photo ID.

Western Union itself says, “We caution people who use our services against sending money to people they don’t know. It is the sender’s responsibility to know the party to which the funds are being sent.”  In addition, it warns, “Western Union will pay the receiver whenever the receiver shows proper identification …”

So with the proper name on a fake photo ID based on the data gleaned from an identity theft operation, a scammer can use this method to get money from someone.

At this point I was fed up. My final message to the scammer was, “You’re wasting your time here. We know where (blank) is and have been in touch with him. If we knew how to reach you we would certainly give the RCMP your actual location.”

There was no further reply.

 

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