Man loses $150,000 in London terror email scam

Filed Under: Spam

A 22-year-old man from Southern Ontario says he owes his friends and family an astonishing CDN $150,000 after he fell victim to an international email scam.

Unemployed Canadian John Rempel told journalists that in 2007 he opened an email claiming that a distant relative had died in a terrorist bombing in London, England.

The scam, which was possibly related to one I reported on back in 2005, told Rempel that a victim of the London terror bombing had left CDN $12.8 million (approximately £7 million) to his next of kin.

Rempel was apparently fooled into believing that the email was legitimate as the "attorney" contacting him said he believed in God and was a regular churchgoer. The gullible 22-year-old did not hesitate in forwarding thousands of dollars in "administrative fees", believing that he would soon receive a fortune.

The scam escalated, and Rempel then found himself flying to England to meet the scammers in person, still believing them to be legal representatives of the dead man.

"I met them behind the motel, I handed them over $10,000 in cash," said Remple. "I was happy. I was like, 'Oh wow, this is real, because I met them and everything.'"

And as the emails asked for more and more money, Rempel borrowed the funds from his parents, family and friends.

You have to wonder why no-one cottoned on to the fact that Rempel was being scammed earlier. Apparently he only called the police two weeks ago when he waited at a New York airport for his fortune to arrive, only to return home empty-handed. And yet for two years his family and friends appear to have been happy to fund this venture of his without question. Even a few minutes Googling would have likely thrown up suspicions that not all was what it seemed.

There will always be vulnerable members of our society who will innocently fall for scams perpetrated across the internet. It is essential for all of us to protect these people from their own foolhardiness, maintain vigilance over our loved ones, and intervene if we believe that they are falling victim to an expensive scam.

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About the author

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, and veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.