Warning about ‘lost passport’ email scams

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RESIDENTS in Seaford are warning others to be wary of email scams from friends who are stuck abroad’ and asking for cash.

Ralph Taylor’s pals unwittingly sent money off after they received an email purporting to be from him saying he was on away on business and had lost his passport and wallet and needed urgent help.

The email was a scam and Mr Taylor, a former town councillor, has since changed his email address.

Elsewhere Wilkinson Way residents Diana and David Hitchin said they had received similar emails and while they realised they are a scam they are concerned others might fall for the fraudulent message.

Mrs Hitchin said, “This year my husband and I have received at least three emails purporting to be from friends who are stuck abroad and need urgent assistance.

“Fortunately both my husband and I are very computer savvy and realised that these were scams.

“However, we do know that some others were not so aware.

“The emails arrive with a plea saying that the ‘friend’ is in Spain, Malaysia, etc., etc., and that their bag, money, passport have been stolen, that the British Embassy are not helping and that they need money sent to them urgently. “However this is a lie, and a telephone call to the real friend would soon ascertain the truth.”

Mrs Hitchin said it was important to look at the email address the reply is going to and she had noticed there is usually one small difference between that and the real email address.

She added, “In the case of one ‘friend’ an ‘s’ had been added, in the case of another a ‘1’.

“If these addresses are replied to then a request for money follows to go through Federal Express etc.

“When we have received these emails, after first checking by phone (not email, as that is already compromised), that the friend is not in dire straits, stuck abroad, mugged etc, the fraud is then reported to the Action Fraud site http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud

“Unfortunately we know of several people who have fallen for these scams and have sent out money which they have little hope of getting back.

“This causes distress not only to the person who has sent it and is unlikely to get it back, but the person whose email address has been compromised.”

The Seaford resident is now urging people not to reply to such emails or send money but telephone the friend or relative first to find out if they are actually in any trouble and need help.