Stranded Abroad

The “stranded abroad” genre of email fraud tries to play on your sympathy by claiming to be from some poor soul who is far from home with no money. This approach is similar to that of a pan-handler you might meet in any major city. It’s basically: “Buddy can you spare a dime?” only instead of accosting you on the street, they’re asking for a handout via email.

While it may ease your conscience to keep  some change handy for pan-handlers (we hope you don’t flash your bankroll in front of them) you’re better off not responding at all to the email version. Especially the ones asking for a phone call. Obviously they already have your email address, there’s no sense giving them your phone number too.

Let’s look at some examples:

Subject: Our Predicament..need your help !!

From: Matthew Avedikian

To: [empty]

I’m sorry for this odd request as i understand it might get to you too urgent,it had to come in a hurry due to the urgency of the situation,am in a terrible situation and need your help urgently..
actually,Liza and I  are presently stuck in London and need help getting home, we were robbed, my bags, cash , cards and  cell phone was stolen at GUN POINT,  it was such a crazy experience. right now,we need help with flying back home and the authorities are not being 100% supportive but the good thing is we still have our passports.just don’t have enough money to get on a plane back home, please we need you to loan us some money till we are back home to refund it back.( whatever amount you can help with is highly appreciated, will surely refund you in a couple of days )

please get back to me and let me know

May God Bless you

This one gets to the point right away; it says “predicament” and “help” in the subject. It has a reasonable “From:” address and the pretty name, Matthew Avedikian, matches the full email  address, (Matt, if you’re reading this, your address is being used for fraud.)

We’d be willing to give the “From:” the benefit of the doubt if it wasn’t for the empty “To:” field. You can pretty much toss anything that doesn’t list you as a recipient so there’s no real need to go any further.

On the other hand, these can actually be kind of fun if read as fiction. This one is the story of Matthew (presumably, based on the from address, but since it’s not signed we can assume this was sent using a number of different addresses) and Liza who were robbed at GUNPOINT and left alone and penniless in London. For some reason a lot of people seem to get stuck in London. We’re not sure why.

This type of fraud often has the kind of breathless drama incorporated into the example above. Maybe you’re supposed to get some kind of vicarious thrill from helping; or you could just delete it.

The next example attempts a certain drama but we came away with the conclusion that the “protagonist” is just stupid:

Subject: An accident happened

From: Andrew Ross <>

To: [Empty]

How are you? I took a flight to The United Kingdom yesterday because one of my close relatives had an accident there.
She is unconscious now and waiting for the surgery. I did not bring much cash with me, so I want to ask if you can lend me some. In fact She does not have to pay any hospital fees because the insurance company will pay all for her.
But while things have not been done, she has to deposit the money for the hospital to proceed the surgery. I will pay you back when things have been done.


P/S : My cell phone not works here, in case you want to reach me, call the landline : +44-203-239-1162, if I am not home leave me a voice message. Thanks

“What!? An accident!? Oh no! Better run and jump on a plane in my underwear.”

So you ran off to London with no money and now you’re asking strangers for help? Uh, no. Sorry. BTW if you search the web for the phone number above you’ll find other references to this exact scam.

“Stranded abroad” fraud attempts generally exhibit the characteristics noted above as well as other more general fraud clues such as capitalized subject lines and a weak command of the language they are using (not always English BTW). To learn more, read the rest of our series on email fraud.

Updated 10/7/10

A funny point that we missed.

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