Facebook Scam Alert: Friend Robbed at Gunpoint, Needs Cash from Western Union

Update: After publishing this I wrote a column with a little more color and an abridged transcript.

I just got instant messaged by a scammer through Facebook. Here’s the gist of the scam:

  • Someone IMs you on Facebook posing as a real friend – he has full access to the friend’s account, even having posted messages on his wall that he needs help urgently
  • He says he got held up at gunpoint in London and needs cash wired to Western Union

In my case, when I wasn’t helping fast enough, he grew impatient, and he ultimately defriended me (from my real friend’s account). I proceeded to write any of his friends.

There are a lot of things that make it fishy. For instance, my supposed friend, an internet enterpreneur, somehow didn’t have a PayPal account. While initially I was new to the scam, most of the conversation was me trying to bide time and get more information out of him that may be useful for others.

This isn’t news – TechCrunch covered this back in January and there’s a lot of information out there – but I wanted to get this info out there in case it helps anyone else.

Below’s the IM transcript. I changed the name of my friend.

– – –

Walter

Hi there

5:27pm

David

hey how's it going Walter?

5:28pm

Walter

Well, In not good here

I need your help

5:28pm

David

what's up?

5:29pm

Walter

Im stuck here in London and I really need help with getting on a plane back home

5:34pm

David

how are you stuck? what can i do?

5:35pm

Walter

I had to visit a resort here in London on vacation and I got robbed at the hotel Im staying

5:35pm

David

oh no that's awful

5:35pm

Walter

Yeah, its really sucks and scary here

I got robbed at a gun point and all my money and stuffs got stolen but im lucky I still have my passport with me

Well, can I ask for a favor?

5:36pm

David

oh no

what do you need?

5:37pm

Walter

What i need now is just some cash to complete my tix till im back home to refund you nback

Can you help with some money?

5:38pm

David

yeah if you need it, your banks/credit cards can't come through with anything? how much do you need to get back?

5:39pm

Walter

$390 pounds is all i need more

Can you help with the money?

I can get it from the ATM for you first thing as soon as Im back home

5:40pmD

avid

that's fine, how can i get it to you

5:40pm

Walter

You can get it to me here using western union

You need just my name as written on my passport and the location here

Do you know how to go about with the western union thing?

5:42pm

David

no i'm looking it up now

and just to check, using paypal to transfer funds won't do anything for you right now right?

5:43pm

Walter

Oh k, Im glad you are helping \Dav

5:44pm

Walter

Western union is very easy to transfer money and to receive money

Just let me know when you are on their website

5:45pm

David

tell me something, if you're online, can't i just use paypal?

5:45pm

Walter

I don't have paypal acct

You can easily get it to me here using western union

5:46pm

David

so where should i wire the money to

5:46pm

Walter

Just my name as written on my passport and the location here

5:46pm

David

what's the location

5:47pm

Walter

United Kingdom London

5:47pm

David

okay well that's obviously not enough information, i'm sure they'll need me to be more specific

5:48pm

Walter

That all you need

5:48pm

David

how will they know where you are, i'm sure there are lots of locations in the UK

5:48pm

Walter

Do you know any western union location around you?

You will be given a confirmation number

5:49pm

David

yes i found many locations

i can help

tell me more about where you are

5:49pm

Walter

I'll be needing it to pick up the money he

You need just my name as written on my passport and my location here

Name:Walter Jenkins

Location United Kingdom, London

5:50pm

David

okay but there are many locations in london, tell me more about where you are

5:50pm

Walter

That's all you need

Yeah, I can pick up the money at any western union location

5:52pm

David

okay, great. so tell me why you only need 390 GBP if you were held up at gunpoint

5:53pm

Walter

I need it to complete my ticket and fly back home

5:53pm

David

how about i just buy you the ticket

i'll go online and buy it for you

tell me which flight you want, which airports

5:54pm

Walter

I'll need the cash for some things more

5:54pm

David

well if you already have some moeny for the ticket, use the money you have for the other things

i'll buy the ticket

you clearly already have some money you were going to use for the ticket anyway

now i'll buy the ticket

5:54pm

Walter

I just need the cash to change the date on my ticket

Just let me know if you can help with the money

5:55pm

David

i'll buy you a ticket

which airport are you in

5:56pm

Walter

Im in a library here using the comp here to get on facebook for help

5:56pmDavid

a friend of mine happens to be at heathrow right now, i just IMed him. can i have him meet you there

5:56pm

Walter

Heathrow

Well, Its okay if you can't help

5:56pm

David

i can help

what flight are you taking

5:57pm

Walter

B.A

Why can't you go to the store and have it done now?

5:57pm

David

what time is your flight?

5:57pm

Walter

Dav

5:58pm

David

what time?

5:58pm

Walter

I don't think you really want to help

Its okay

5:58pm

David

i'm going to buy you a plane ticket in your name, with your passport you'll be fine

5:58pm

Walter

I don't need it

5:58pm

David

why not? you got held at gunpoint

5:58pm

Walter

the manager will be helping me to purchase the ticket here

5:59pm

David

oh that is SOOO nice of him, then you can use your money to buy whatever else you need

which library are you at? that way i can look up how far you are from heathrow

6:02pm

David

You don't have permission to chat with this person.

still there?

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