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Scammers send out requests for ‘urgent help’

12 August 2017

Have you received an email from someone you know who has allegedly been robbed during their holiday and now needs your help? The chances are that this email and the request for help are fake.

Reports are coming in to Fraudehelpdesk about this or similar ‘requests from friends in need’. The subject of these emails is always ‘Urgent Help!’ (‘Dringende hulp’). The story is always the same: a friend or acquaintance is robbed while travelling (in these emails, the destination is always Ukraine). They now need money. Here are three examples:

Our advice
These emails are often the result of a hacked account. Scammers have found a way to access email accounts and are now sending messages to people on the stolen contact lists. The owners of these accounts are better off changing their passwords.

How to spot these scams?

The quality of these ‘whaling’ emails varies. Some are full of language errors while others are well-crafted. Nevertheless, these scam emails are almost always easy to recognize. They often have the following features, which may help you spot them:

  • The sender uses a general greeting or none at all;
  • The email addresses you in formal Dutch (‘u’ instead of ‘jij’), which is odd considering that the sender is a good friend

Read more: What to do when you receive a distress call from a friend?