I received a message from a friend yesterday. I do not just believe everything I read. In my " Got Evidence" blog series, The proof is in researching the message or thought.
So when I got a message that a friend was mugged in Spain and needed some money to pay the hotel bill, it was alarming to me. First of all the message context did not sound like her. Second, I just didn't understand why she would ask me. We haven't talked in over 6 years. These two alarms should have settled the thought of, this is not true. However, still not sure. What if it was and I did not help them.
So, I began my quest. First I called a mutual friend. She knew nothing. But suggested that I forward the message to the persons real e-mail. I did. Then I got a message back stating that it was true. Still not convinced. I placed a call to another close friend of ours. He stated the they were seen the previous evening. Said he would check into it and that maybe it was probably an identity theft. Suggested I do nothing. I tried to send I message that would let me know if it was truly them. But that message would not go through. I went to her Facebook and sent a personal message. This morning I got back a message that stated it was true. Once again I was not convinced. Since no one else received this message for help.
One final thing I did was call a neighbor of theirs. Who stated that she has seen them for two days in their yard talking to the neighbors. Now there is just no way they could have been in Madrid, Spain Yesterday at 5pm and at their house at 7pm.
So, there it is.... this was a Scam. I pretty good one. I did some checking into this type of Scam and found out this is going on now. Some folks have had their informational contacts hacked and a help send money message has gone out. I was just taken back of how using three different type of communications could yield the same message.
What can we learn from this? First be sure you tell someone if you are planning to go on vacation. Second, set up a code phrase or word to use if you are in trouble. Never ever put all your money and credit cards in the same place. That way if you do get attacked, they will not get everything. Thirdly and Must Important is keep phone numbers and contacts in a secure place. Do not send e-mails for help. Rely on the phones, if you need to send an e-mail make sure the person know it is you. Tell them something only they would know and give them a contact number for you. Even a Hotel number would do. Most have toll free numbers.
This Girl is a skeptic and it will take a lot of info before I will help out. Since this event I have locked down my sites and added some security measures. I have removed my FB friend, because her site has been hacked. I really haven't even spoke with them for years. We all move on.