The Stranded Traveler Scam

I received the following e-mail this morning:

To: Brent Logan
From: John Smith1
Subject: Urgent Please


Hope you are doing well.I had travelled to London for a seminar yesterday, Unfortunately for me,my money was stolen from the hotel that i lodged in and they made away with my wallet (which included my cash, diary and credit cards). I am so confused right now and i didnt bring my phone here along with me.Please i want you to lend me a sum 1,050 GBP today, just to clear my Hotel bills and re-arrange myself back home,As soon as i get home i would refund it immediately.Write me so i can let you know how to send it to me through western union money transfer since i dont have an an account here.

Best regards

John Smith

Being a generally careful person, I requested confirming information. Unfortunately, I asked for exactly the wrong sort of information:


Sorry to hear about your problems. I’m sure you’ll understand why I need some identification information before forwarding you any money. How are you related to me? Looking forward to hearing back from you… ;-)


At first glance, the response seemed reasonable.

Dear Brent,

I know you simply asked me that for security purposes but you and i know that We are distant cousins via my Jones2/Logan family.I did the research on the Logan Line and wrote a book.I have spoken with the embassy and they are not responding to the matter effectively. I have also filed a report with the british police.Please i need you to lend me 1,050 can help me have it sent via Western Union Money Transfer so i can re-arrange myself and return back home.Below is the information you might require in sending me some money to me.

Receivers name:John Smith
Address/location: 34 Leinster Square, Bayswater,
London ,United Kingdom.

Brent,as soon as you send the money, just send me the mtcn number and the senders full information used when sending the money. I would be waiting.

Thank you

John Smith

Then I remembered John does genealogy as a hobby. An online search quickly found all the “confirming” information the scammer sent to me.

I’ve requested more confirming information (after all, it still might be John — but I doubt it). I also researched how to contact the London police.

Those of us who disclose family information online need to know it makes it easier for those around us to be scammed. Giving your e-mail password to another site completes the process.

Let’s be careful out there.

Update. I guess I can’t report this to the London police:

Currently there is no facility in the UK to report fraud offences on line. (Source.)

Is the UK the next Nigeria?

Update 2. My brother writes on Facebook later the same day:

Loves it that Mom sends me an email warning me of an Internet scam – “friend” asking for money to be wired cuz he lost his wallet, etc., while traveling. Mom picks up the telephone and calls him!

Ha! :-D

  1. Not my relative’s real name, but he probably has enough problems without my publishing that his e-mail account has been hacked. â†©
  2. Yet another non-real name.
    Will scammers every learn to spell and punctuate their e-mails? â†©

5 responses to “The Stranded Traveler Scam”

  1. Mike Avatar

    Punctuation is not the only giveaway. The scam letter I got used a friend who never had great english to begin with. When I read it I thought it was grammatically better than anything she had sent me before!

  2. Brent Logan Avatar

    Ha! Sounds like grammar can be a clue, too. I guess it all depends on who has you in their address book.

  3. Teri Avatar

    Unfortunately I had to receive a phone call from my sister asking me about a letter she received from an email accound of mine which also was about me being stranded in the UK. It’s a good thing I have intelligent family and friends or else the scam/scheme would have worked. I decided to write a letter to myself just in case the scammers were reading my email so they know that I am on to them and that none of my family and friends are gullible enough to fall for this lame scam. I have since changed all my info and set my security setting on high so this shouldn’t happen again but if it does I will be making sure my family and friends know it is me by including something that only my family and friends would know and no one else would so I am no one has to open threatening email messages in the future. I was so mad about this especially since the scammer even changed my password so I couldn’t get into my account to make changes.

    Thank God my family, friends and I have discernment to know when someone is deceiving us.

  4. Donna Avatar

    I received my second today.. this one was from a contact in my email addresss book. My friends ex husband, stating that he was in Wales with their 2 boys. It even mentioned the boys names. How did they get this information?

  5. Brent Logan Avatar

    Personally identifiable information is posted all over the ‘net: sports team rosters, class lists, genealogy sites, blog posts, Facebook, etc. Knowing family relationships is no longer adequate for proving identity. Fortunately, it’s easy to confirm by telephone where and who people are. Don’t send money without placing a call.