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.