This message came in today from a cousin's email address — and freaked out some members of my extended family. However, it's a total scam. Someone hacked in my cousin's email address (either by guessing her password or by phishing for it) and sent out these messages. One family member actually went to the bank to get cash to send to London!
Needless to say, my cousin is safe at home — and was initially somewhat confused because she couldn't get into her email. One of the first things the scammers did was change her password. And then the phone started ringing….
If you see messages like this, don't respond, don't be fooled. Do not try to get back to the family member by email, but use other means. Remember, the scammer has access to the email account, and can answer. Being bcc'd on a message (which I was) is one sign that it's not legit. (But if you're not bcc'd, that's not proof that the message is legitimate.)
Here's an account of someone who received a very similar message earlier this year — it's possibly from the same scammers, as it's nearly word-for-word identical. Don't be fooled!
Subj: Horrible Trip
This message may be coming to you as a surprise but I need your help.Few days back my family and I made an unannounced vacation trip to London,UK.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 thing 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. Our return flight leaves soon...I need you to help me out with a loan to settle our bills here so we can get back home . I'll refund the money as soon as we get back. All i need is $1,850 USD..Let me know if you can get me the money then I will let you know how to get it to me.