This message may be coming to you as a surprise but I need your help.Few days back we made an unannounced vacation trip to Kiev Ukraine.Everything was going fine until last night when we were mugged on our way back to the hotel.They Stole all our cash,credit cards and cellphone but thank God we still have our lives and passport.Another shocking is that the hotel manager has been unhelpful to us for reasons i don't know. I'm writing you from a local library cybercafe..I've reported to the police and after writing down some statements that's the last i had from them.i contacted the consulate and all i keep hearing is they will get back to me. i need your help ..I need you to help me out with a loan to settle my bills here so we can get back home, our return flight leaves soon. I'll refund the money as soon as i get back. All i need is $1,950 ..Let me know if you can get me the money then I tell you how to get it to me.


Jean Morrison

This is the text, copied verbatim from a recent email. I left in the errors of spacing, punctuation, grammar and spelling.

I receive these types of letters about once every couple of months. Usually, they don't arrive like this right out of the chute. Since I'm on several social media sites I first receive an invitation to be a friend and am asked to contact the individual accompanied by a typical line being something like, “I have something important to share.” Dating sites are notorious for these. After years of receiving these scam letters I'm able to spot them right away, even before the actual letter arrives. I can recognize the intro-get-ready-for-the-pitch email.

I used to just dump them, but then I started playing along. Asking questions, see how far they'd go before they realized I wasn't going to send them money. For the one above I wondered:

1. Who she was and why did she pick me to contact.

2. Why she didn't contact family for assistance.

3. What was the reason she went to Ukraine in the first place.

4. Did she visit the U.S. Consulate or just call?

I haven't heard back.

For awhile, the letters came from the all too infamous Nigeria. Yes, I received the one from the banker who had money for me, but also some similar to the one above. “My boyfriend stole my passport and left me here in a Nigerian hotel and they won't let me leave until I pay the bill.”

Another was the girl's mother had been in an auto accident and needed medical assistance. Another was some distance relation named Brayton who had money for me.

Then one came, supposedly, from Ethiopia. At least this time, the scammer decided on another country as did the writer of the one above.

One of the ways I could tell a scam letter was how the original profile was in excellent English but the email was written by a person with barely a grasp on how to write the language. Plus, they put in too many 'dears' and affectionate terms too soon. I remember one where the woman said she came from a place in southeast Russia. I looked up the city on a map and saw a huge lake nearby. When I questioned if she was able to visit the lake, do some sailing, camping, etc., she wrote back saying she didn't have a lake near her city. Hmm...

More scams next week.

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