By David F. Rooney
Someone somewhere has stolen Joel LeBlanc’s identity and is e-mailing everyone in his computer address book telling them he is in the U.K. and desperately broke so would they please send him money — $3,500 to be exact.
None of it is true, of course, and the owner of the Revelstoke U-Brew wants people to be aware that they, too, could become victims of identity theft and fraud if they’re not careful.
“I was sent an e-mail (on Thursday) that looked like it was from Yahoo Account Services,” he said Saturday morning. “It looked authentic. They wanted my account information because they were working on their system and wanted to check and make sure that the account information was the same. I’ve heard of these things before but it looked legit.”
LeBlanc is not naive. He had seen e-mails purporting to be from major banks that looked fairly real. But he was so convinced by the authenticity of this particular e-mail that he complied and sent off his account details. The fraudsters then logged onto his account, changed his password and locked him out of it. Two of the people on his address book called him and alerted him to the e-mail scam. Here’s a copy of one of the e-mails that was sent out:
From: Joel LeBlanc <email@example.com>
Date: December 19, 2009 6:14:35 AM PST
To: undisclosed recipients: ;
Subject: Quick Response
I’m terribly sorry to bother you with this email.. I left for an urgent trip to the UK and i am stocked now because i misplaced my wallet on my way back to the Hotel where i lodged. I really can’t say much now.I really need you to loan me ($3,500) to settle the Hotel bills and to get my self back home. The Hotel has my travel document till I’m able to make payments. I will appreciate whatever you can afford to loan me even if you are not able to come up with everything… I will make arrangements for refunds as soon as i get home.The Hotel has given me a deadline of just 2 days to pay up or they will get me arrested by the Police. I have just today and tomorrow.Please help me send the money by Western Union Money Transfer to my details :
Address: 30 Leicester Square
City: London WC2H 7LA,
Don’t forget to email the necessary details that will be required to pick up the funds. I will be looking forward to read from you soon.
As you can probably tell just by reading this, it was not written by a Canadian. It doesn’t sound Canadian and, in fact, it doesn’t sound very natural at all.
LeBlanc said he has been talking with Yahoo’s computer security officials and will be calling the RCMP. Anyone who receives one of these e-mail purportedly from Joe LeBlanc should contact him at 250-837-6072.
Yahoo’s own security site has a specific warning about this kind of scam. It says:
“If you’ve received an email claiming to be from Yahoo! that asks for your password or other private information, you’ve likely received a “phishing” email.” These emails typically contain links that appear to go to a Yahoo! site but actually link to a fake, or “spoofed” Yahoo! site.
“Here’s what to do about it:
- Report the email to Yahoo!. We want to know what you’ve received so we can investigate.
- Don’t click any links on the email if you are uncertain about any “official” email you’ve received. The safest way to visit a website listed in the email is to type the site’s address directly in the address bar of your web browser. You can learn more about how to identity a phishing website in the Yahoo! Security Center.
- Be confident about Yahoo!. You can be sure that no Yahoo! employee will ever ask you for your password or personal information in an unsolicited phone call or email message.”
For more information about security on Yahoo! go to http://security.yahoo.com/.