The perils of Facebook, or how to scam a sister-in-law

I’ve just installed a nifty IM aggregator that connects all of my various networks, including Facebook, and alerts me when someone is trying to chat with me.  So far, I’m liking it quite a bit.  

So, I get an IM from my brother-in-law, Thom.  This is fairly unusual, but a welcome surprise.  He’s not good – he’s stuck in London.  Here’s the transcript of our chat:

Thomas Hi Mary  [All of my brothers call me Mary, rather than Mary Beth.  My grandfathers did, too.]

Mary Hi there!

Thomas how are you doing ?

Mary Good – how are you? Quiet day here at the library…

Thomas I’m not good

Mary How come? What’s going on?

Thomas I’m in stuck in london right now

Mary Well, there are worse places to be stuck! Why are you stuck there? Are you at the airport?

Thomas I was mugged at gunpoint and have my cash, credit card and other valuable stuffs stolen off me

Mary WHAT????? Are you OK?

Thomas nope in my hotel room and my flight leaves in 3 hours from now.  Mary, please I need your help urgently

It was at this point that I started to get suspicious.  That phrase would never come out of Thom’s mouth.  But I continued, just in case.

Mary What do you need?

Thomas I need you to loan me some $$$ so I can settle my unsettle bills so I can check out.  the hotel won’t let me check out without settling the bills I owe

Mary How should we do this? How much are we talking about?

Thomas you have the money sent to me via western union money transfer

$800 will be okay

I will pay you your $ back as soon as I get home, I don’t mind paying you back with interest

OK.  I’m more than willing to help out my brother-in-law.  Thom does travel quite a bit and it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility that he would be in London and find himself in this unfortunate situation.  But just to make sure, I decided to ask a question that Thom should have been able to answer very easily.

Mary alright – just to make sure you’re who you say you are, what’s my granddaughter’s name?

Thomas don’t you trust me ? Is it because I need your help thats why you asking me this

please my flight leaves in 3 hours from now

Mary Not at all – it’s because your stuff was stolen and I want to make sure you’re really Thom and not some thief.

No problem – then tell me my granddaughter’s name

Thomas mary come off this I can’t remember that now, not in a good mood at all

Ah-hah.  At this point, I decided to call Thom.  He answered.  And surprise of surprises, he wasn’t in London, but at work.  In Wisconsin.  

Mary Interesting – I’m talking to you on the phone right now. And you don’t seem to be in London.

Thomas I’m in London Mary..Why are you doubting me

Well, I certainly give whomever points for persistence.  Sticking with the story, at least.

Thomas are you there ???

Mary I’m here

Thomas Please I need to get out of here as soon as possible

Mary Then explain how you can be in London when I just talked with you on the phone, and you’re in Wisconsin.

Mary Interesting, no?

Thomas I’m in UK now mary

Mary Dude, get serious. I just TALKED to Thom.

Thomas I’m in UK now mary

Whomever it was gave up at that point.

I’m not sure what the moral of the story is, except that there are people out there that will try anything to scam money.  Apparently, Facebook is a new venue for this.  I wrote to all of Thom’s Facebook friends and told them what happened, in case this person was going down the list.   (Luckily, Thom isn’t very active on Facebook and so there weren’t that many people to contact.)

It’s a whole new world out there, people.  Be careful out there.

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Filed under Me and mine, Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."

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