Heather Killen
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Old scammers learning new tricks

This letter from Malaysia was sent to The Annapolis County Spectator offering a deal way to good to be true. Several other Middleton residents, including one prominent businessman, received the same letter but personally addressed to them. It’s a twist on an old email scam.

By Heather Killen

The Spectator


Everything old is new again in the worlds of fashion and fraud.

Just as most anyone with a telephone has already won at least one cruise, anyone with an email account or a fax machine has probably heard from someone like Mrs. Perveen Al. Mahoudi.

This “terminally ill widow,” like so many unfortunates who find themselves in dire straits, has a large sum of money she wants to invest in Canada and needs private banking information in order to safely deposit this sum.

While it’s only natural to want to help another human being, never give out personal information to strangers. In fact responding in any way to these emails, letters, or phone calls could be dangerous, according to Sharon Elliott, RCMP Senior Safety Program coordinator.



“These people are very manipulative and know how to play on people’s emotions,” she said. “Even if they don’t get the banking information, they may pick up other details and open up another type of scam.”

The scammers always try to use people’s emotions against them, whether it’s sympathy or greed, when people are reacting with their emotions they aren’t thinking clearly.

Unlike the familiar email approach, several people in Middleton received the message from “Mrs. Mahoudi” as a personal letter through the mail last week. While the letter may seem more legitimate coming through the mail, it’s one of several old scams taking a fresh approach.

“Old scams never die, they always come back,” says Elliott. “T’is the season.”

She added that she expects other classics such as the ever-popular call of the cruise ship; or the bright promises to reduce and consolidate debts will also be making comebacks this season.


Time of Year

“This time of the year people are thinking about getting away on a cruise, or maybe they’ve overspent during the holidays,” she said. “Given the thousands of people they approach, it’s the law of chance they will find at least one person to respond.”

Some of the popular scams are really two-stage set-ups. In the first stage a person’s email account is hacked. During the second phase, emails are sent to that person’s friends and family.

These emails pretend to be from the person named on the account and ask for help. They tell friends and family that while away, they have gotten into some trouble. It could be an illness, or just an unfortunate accident, but money is urgently needed.

It’s always wise to hold-off and verify this information, she said.


Computer Trouble

While many scams target individuals by name, others are just an innocent click away on the Internet. Eliott says computer trouble can sometimes lead to a computer scam.

A person went online looking for help to fix his computer and found a company to help. The company seemed to be legitimate, but it was only after he gave away access to his personal information did he realize he was duped.

“The threats are always out there, some are direct while others are just waiting on the Internet,” she said. “Always double-check before responding with personal information. If in doubt, we are only a phone-call away and this help is free.”

For more information on possible computer scams contact the local office of the RCMP.

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Canada, Middleton

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Recent comments

  • Sue Robinson
    January 06, 2013 - 17:59

    I'm wondering if this is what's happening to the biggest social media website going. Facebook has had so many weird things going on lately, posts that are in your name but you never posted them & all sorts of confusing things. I couldn't figure out what info the hackers are looking for, it's only FB & we really don't put anything out there that would be of use to a hacker. I must have clicked on something wrong while using FB though. On New Year's Day, all of a sudden I had disappeared from the site. Friends couldn't find me & everything I had earlier posted to everyone, had vanished. Trying to log back on to my page was the biggest hassle &t what I was told to do was maddening! First I was supposed to click on 3 photos that I had supposedly posted & click the people that I had tagged in them. The first photo was ok, I had posted & tagged it but the next photo was of one I had never seen before so of course I couldn't click on anyone because I hadn't tagged anyone. I was only given 2 skips (passes), so I skipped the unknown photo & another one took its place that I hadn't posted either. Well, now I was out of skips so I started the entire procedure over. Again with no luck after 4 or five tries, even changing my password as many times. That's when I found out what the hackers were after. I was told that I would have to upload a photo of either my drivers license, SIN card or my birth certificate in order to get back on! I would never fall for that but I'm afraid some people would. I asked myself, where was FB during all of this? Why don't they follow what's going on, on their site? I sent them a letter about my experience under Issues/Bugs but still have not received an answer. I have also tried to tell people about this & the usual reaction is,don't click on anything that you don't know or trust. That's rather hard to do when posts appear to be made by your friends. So yes, scammers are everywhere & they are braver & bolder & smarter than ever now-a-days. They're on the phone, in the mail, in your emails & even on your your social media websites. I still don't know what I clicked on to have this happen to me so be careful everyone & remember to never, ever give out any personal information.