I hadn’t spoken with her for years, nor have we ever crossed the border between professionalism and friendship. However I was sure to have her e-mail saved in my address book from the time we used to work on a project together; and this made me think that it was possible that she wrote to me after all these years.
She also seemed to be in a great deal of trouble as you can see in the screenshot below:
In short, she needed some money to fly back home from Scotland (where I knew she might be due to her repeated native language research trips in the area). Apparently, she had had her bag and documents stolen. All I needed to do was to call one of the two given numbers, bearing the geographic area code for the telephone numbers in Great Britain. Hats off for validity, fellow crooks!
Well, as a Good Samaritan, I dialed in the first number, but it had been suspended in the meantime. Second time was a charm and I finaly got through to a male voice impersonating the hotel concierge, who briefly informed me that the person I was trying to chat with was had left the hotel for the Embassy, but I could send her the money via wire transfer. Unfortunately for the scammer, the conversation got interrupted before mentioning where exactly I was to send the money to. Further contact attempts ended up unanswered.
From this point on I am to speculate, shortly after honoring “my teacher’s” request, my concierge, the story and the money would vanish into the thin air.
You say classic, I say scary. Every aspect of the scam was made to look legit: it was my contact her name and profession were accurate; the faculty name and the zip code from the signature were identical to the original ones – and it should be, since her e-mail address had been broken into and used to con all her contacts into a dramatic extortion scheme Wouldn’t you be inclined to land a helping hand?