Recently I received an email, from the correct address of a friend, saying that they were in London and had been robbed of their passports, money and credit cards. They requested that I send money immediately, via Western Union.
There were a number of tips in the email to indicate that this was a scam: Bad punctuation and spelling, a sense of must-do-it-now urgency, slang that was not American, and the fact that it was highly unlikely that this family would be in London during the school year!
The FBI says the following about this type of fraud: “The IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) continues to receive reports of individuals' e-mail or social networking accounts being compromised and used in a social engineering scam to swindle consumers out of thousands of dollars…If you receive a similar notice and are not sure it is a scam, you should always verify the information before sending any money.”
Should this happen to you, go to http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
to report it.
For more information about senior fraud, go to http://www.aarp.org/applications/search/search.action?q=senior%20fraud