Monday, May 24, 2010

EXPLOSIVE ENCOUNTER: ONLINE SCAM!


Yesterday, I received a shocking message via online. My Professor, who is also a close friend of mine, sent me this:
Hope you get this on time,sorry I didn't inform you about my trip in UK for a Program, I'm presently in UK and am having some difficulties here because i lost my wallet to some robbers on my way to the hotel where my money and other valuable things were kept. presently i have limited access to internet,I will like you to assist me with a loan of 900 Pounds to sort-out my hotel bill,feeding and transportation.
I have spoken to the embassy here but they are not responding to the issue effectively,I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist me,I'll Refund the money back to you as soon as i return,let me know if you can be of any help.I don't have a phone where i can be reached.
Please let me know immediately.
Regards.
Dr. Armi V. Santiago
After I read the email, honestly, I panicked. Of course, I would never let anyone be in that situation. As my initial reaction, I replied hoping to help.

Mam Arms, are you okay?

Ano pong nangyari? How can we reach you?

As I typed those statements, thoughts kept running in my mind. The email got me. Yeah. I believed in the statement that my professor is possibly at UK for a program. For everyone's information, Dr. Arminda Santiago, who I fondly call Mam Arms, is a chair at UP CMC (College of Mass Communication) Graduate Studies in Diliman. She has two Masters Degree (Local and Abroad) and One Doctorate. With these achievements, I wouldn't doubt if she's in UK at the moment for a program.

After I sent my reply, my professor emailed me:


As I read the piece, fear and anxiety hit. At the same time, I started to doubt. Just last April, I met Mam Arms and we had a long conversation. It was more of updates in our lives. Apparently, she never mentioned to me that she's going to UK this month to attend a program. Honestly, I treat Mam Arms not only me mentor in the field of media studies and communication as she lends me some books and even promise to reach out if I need help in my research, more importantly, we're like family. I treat her like my mother and my most trusted friend. And so with this kind of relationship, I couldn't just believe she'll be out of the country and won't let me know.

Although I was ready to help, I couldn't just authenticate the real situation. The tone of the message didn't sound like my professor.

Soon, despite the apprehensions, the situation got me. I dared to help with thinking in mind on how to generate some financial aide. As a jumpstart, I thought of ways on how to reach her or our other friends in the Philippines. Then, a solution popped out. I said to myself, perhaps she's online on her Facebook account. I tried.

I wasn't wrong. She's online. And so we started chatting. I just wanted to validate her situation because I'm really worried at that time.

Here's our conversation.


Me
mam armi! nasa pinas ba kayo? may nagemail sa akin gamit ang email niyo eto nakalagay: Hope you get this on time,sorry I didn't inform you about my trip in UK for a Program, I'm presently in UK and am having some difficulties here because i lost my wallet to some robbers on my way to the hotel where my money and other valuable things were kept. presently i have limited access to internet,I will like you to assist me with a loan of 900 Pounds to sort-out my hotel bill,feeding and transportation.

I have spoken to the embassy here but they are not responding to the issue effectively,I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist me,I'll Refund the money back to you as soon as i return,let me know if you can be of any help.I don't have a phone where i can be reached.
Please let me know immediately.

Regards.
Dr. Armi V. Santiago

please let me know po.

2:12pm
Arminda:
hello Earvs

(At this point, I was surprised. She's online!)

2:12pm
Me: mam!!!! may nagemail sa akin email niyo ang gamit, is that true?

2:15pm
Arminda: I am stuck here in Machester UK. I need you to help me out with the money.

2:16pm
Me: Really mam?

2:16pm
Arminda: I just send you an email now on how you can send me the money

2:16pm
Me: anong nangyari sa inyo?

2:18pm
Arminda: I was attacked by armed robbers and all my money was stolen and i can not access a phone now

2:19pm
Me: mam!!!!!!!!! are you okay?

2:19pm
Arminda: yes i am fine. I have being to the embassy but they are not helping monetary

(if you'll observe, the conversation is leading to monetary help)

2:21pm
Me: Ang problem ko nasa Pilipinas ang money ko allowance lang meron ako dito. sino napong nakausap niyo dyan? nako mam problem nasa pinas money ko if ever. Anong conference inattendan niyo dyan?

2:23pm
Arminda: I travled here for a medical program

2:24pm
Me: sino kasama niyo dyan?

(My doubts went up!If you'll observe, the person I was talking to didn't respond fast. Perhaps he/she didn't understand Tagalog)

2:29pm
Me: mam sino kasama niyo dyan?

2:31pm
Arminda: mam is not here with me. Please let me know how soon you are the send me the money because I do not have much access to the internet here

2:33pm
Me: mam i'm so concerned. Do you have any number?

(I felt that I was talking to a stranger. Ma'am Arms is not a doctor of Medicine but a Doctor of communication. With this conversation, I was already fishing information to get details from the spammer!)

2:34pm
Arminda: I do not have a phone number in UK.I am in immigration Hostel it a place for Immigrant who are stuck or does not have accommodation

2:35pm
Me: I know someone there who can help you. please give more information

2:36pm
Arminda: and visitor are not welcome, it's a very strict place. They instructed me to give the address to receive money.

(At this point, I called my friend in the Philippines and she told me she received the same message. I just told my friend to give Mam Armi a call. Mam Armi has to know her Facebook account is hacked!)

2:41pm
Me: i already instructed our colleagues to go at your place . where are you mam? the embassy will send reinforcement.

2:42pm
Arminda: I am in Immigration Hostel

2:44pm
Me: okay just stay there

2:44pm
Arminda: look Earvs I have no much time to chat with you

2:44pm
Me:  our staff will pick you up. just give me the details

2:45pm
Arminda: Some else want to make use of the computer

2:45pm
Me: i'm talking with the staff of our embassy there.  i have lots of contacts. we will help you mam

2:45pm
Arminda: I will advice you contact me through my mails

2:45pm
Me: okay. but anything more than that?

2:45pm
Arminda: The immigration want me to be self. They do not want anyone to see me

2:46pm
Me: Where is mam? But you're in danger. of course anyone would like to help. Give me your details. The money is on its way

Arminda: instruct them to send me the money the address below which the Immigration instructed me to use. Receivers Name:Arminda Santiago. Address:5 Bolton Old Road Atherton Manchester, M46 9DF, United Kingdom. Money can wire to me through Western Union or Money Gram.

2:52pm
Me: okay. just wait we're sending it now

2:53pm
Arminda: and soon as you send me the money please get back to me with transfer details

After this line, the spammer went offline. The conversation left me shocked.

Soon, I received some information that my Professor is in the Philippines. She's fine. Obviously, I was just victimized by a spammer!

Truth be told, if there's anything I learned from this experience, anyone can be a victim of the vicious cycle of internet scam. If I was so vulnerable, perhaps I already sent some money just to help. So guys, please be careful. I don't this to happen to anyone.

To know more about spammers and how they operate, perhaps you can check out this link

2 comments:

  1. Apes! Natakot kaya ako! Super encounter talaga sa spammer! Waaaaah!

    ReplyDelete

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