Beware the Scammers — Be Very Skeptical That Your Friends are Stranded in the Philippines


Well, my friends, the scammers are still out and about. I suppose that’s something we should expect during these holiday times.

A few months ago we received lots of calls from someone purporting to be from the IRS, leaving a recording that said unless we pay up back taxes we’ll be in bad trouble. I knew right away it was a scam. I usually ignore the calls but one time I called the number they left, got a live person on the line and, using language that would have made my dear old mother blush, I told him I knew he was a fraud and that he would soon rot in jail.

Well, I guess that scam has run its course, because I haven’t heard too much from them lately.

Then, today, I got a supposed email from a guy who is my oldest buddy. We go back to the fifth grade — 1953. In it, the person claiming to be my pal says he and his family were robbed in the Philippines. They can’t get help from the consulate or local authorities and the hotel won’t allow them to leave until they settle the bill. So can I please loan him some money so they can get out of the jam?

Well, lots of warning signals went off right there. My friend said “my family,” but he really would have used his wife’s name. Also, they just got back from Europe and I highly doubt they would have gone off to Asia for Thanksgiving week. He has three kids and oodles of grandkids and would not leave them at this time of the year.

And, as close as we are, I think he would have called upon his daughters to help out financially, not a friend 275 miles from his home.

Also, when was the last time you checked into a hotel and they did not demand your credit card as soon as you walked in. His hotel bill would be settled already.

What was disconcerting to me is that the scammers have his proper email address. They must have hijacked it somehow because if I wrote back saying I wanted to help, they must have some method of intercepting the email to instruct me how to get the money to them.
Also, I called his house and got no answer and his cell phone went straight to voice mail.
But, just in case it was my friend, I responded to the email with certain questions that no scammer could know. I asked him where we went to grammar school, what was my first car, where did he go to school in the ninth grade and who was the guy who got drunk and punched me in the stomach at a school reunion a few years ago (Yes, that really happened).

So, I don’t expect to hear any more from Manila. But I am concerned as to how they got my email address and, as I said, how have they taken over his.

It seems there are countless scamming schemes for the rotten folks who like to live off of others. It leaves me angry and wanting revenge. I really, really hope these guys get caught before much longer.

So, please be extra careful before you respond to any suspicious cries for help. The last thing I want to do is help a scammer.