Sunday, 18 July 2010


It was like a punch in the stomach. My eyes widened in shock as I read the mail from a blogger friend who lives in the US. He and his family had gone on holiday and lost everything except their passports after being mugged. This was a horror tale to beat all others. I dread anything to do with travel, and this seemed to be the ultimate vindication of my fears. I looked to see how we could help, but there was no plea or address for help to be rendered.

I'm writing this with tears in my eyes,my family and I came down here
to London, England for a short vacation unfortunately we were mugged at
the park of the hotel where we stayed,all cash,credit card and cell
were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with
We've been to the embassy and the Police here but they're not helping
issues at all and our flight leaves in less than 3hrs from now but
we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager
won't let us leave until we settle the bills.
Am freaked out at the moment

Then it struck me - why should anyone who is in such a desperate situation mail his blogger friends? Highly suspicious now, and remembering stories of similar mails sent by friends, or purportedly sent by friends, I decided to check it out. First I copy pasted the first sentence on to Google search, and saw that the very same words in the same order appeared in many references to ‘phishing’ or scam. A little comforted now, I called the number of the friend in the US. I was delighted when his wife answered, and told me that they were fine, and that they had had similar calls from others on their mailing list, asking after their well being.

What had happened was this - someone had hacked into his account and sent the ‘phishing’ mail, and now he could not access the hacked mail account. Follow up mail from and to other blogger friends reassured everyone that our friend was ok. (Read his account of it here). To those who had answered the email, the hacker would send an address where money could be wired, that was the modus operandi.

It was a relief to know that they were not caught in such dire straits, for it has been known to happen to people we know.

When friends of ours living in the Middle East visited their son in New York, their luggage was stolen right from the hotel while they were getting themselves registered. Another couple we know had their bag containing their passports, laptop, cash, credit cards, watches and other valuables (not so many cell phones in those days) stolen from the restaurant of the hotel they were staying in – it was at Austria, I think.

Though some things were recovered eventually, the joy of the trip must have diminished considerably.


Indrani said...

A lesson to learn for all.

Devika Jyothi said...

I had heard of such occurances before and received such a mail once on behalf of a blogger friend...i wrote to her...and she put a note on blog,



Being British I would like to say we're not all like those people who mugged you , I apologise for my fellow country person's bad behaviour, I am disgusted that you should be treated this way.

What more can I say Raji?
Take care.

Meera's World said...

i get almost everyday mails saying that someone has left a will for me in South Africa for me;)etc etc.
The sad thing is sometimes ppl do fall in to those traps.

Gauri Gharpure said...

I got a mail with more or less the same lines a month back.. it was past midnight and I knew there was no chance of the sender being at the said place at the said moment. but it was alarming, all the same..

Winifred said...

Thankfully this didn't happen to your friends. What a blessing.

Sadly muggings and robberies do happen in most cities. I was robbed in London on the Tube luckily it was my purse and not my handbag that was taken. A lovely London bobby took me to the nearest bank and I managed to get cash there to get me home.

My husband who was carrying my grandson was nearly robbed in Barcelona by a very young lad. Luckily my son in law saw what was happening and grabbed him. Not very nice and it can spoil your whole holiday.

Praveen Krishnan said...

It was pretty depressing to read Mr. Maddy's post!!!

Asha said...

I too get many mails from unknown people stating that i have won a lottery,great deals etc, etc.,. I just knock them without even reading them. God knows from where they get our id.

Maddy said...

as Indrani said - a lesson to never know until you are the target, i still wionder whay i was chosen by the said nigerian hacker.. thanks again, for the care & concern..

YOSEE said...

Just a fortnight ago, a close friend suffered the same, with all his contacts getting that dreadfully tragic mail about being stranded in some improbable place ! Wonder how some people still fall for such Nigerian-frauds, even after ample cases are reported in the media.

Swarna said...

More than one lesson - on hacking, and on spreading spam. Going by the number of spam messages - it would appear that lessons on Netiquette are not easily learnt....

Murthy said...

wow madame... you're doing good!!! learning the bad things that can happen so that you can be safe nice !!!

Swarna said...

My turn today - for the punch in the stomach, but I must say this post of yours had me prepared.
I got an identical mail supposedly from a former classmate at MIT Chennai, and the 'victim' realised it early and followed up with a cautionary / explanatory / apologetic mail.

dr.antony said...

I have had lots of mails saying that I won a lottery in Italy.I dint know the first time.Then I knew the pattern. I also get mails from girls saying that they are looking for friendships and so on.Ultimately,they will ask you to send some money towards processing charges and so on.The best policy is to ignore mails from those whom you do not know well.If it is some one close to us,they would definitely call us. I also received a call to my mobile,saying that it was from the telephone company and I had won 20 thousand dirhams.When I mentioned it at the hospital,every one started laughing,because most of them had received similar calls earlier than me.