Scammers try to trick LinkedIn users with sob story

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Crying womanIt’s a terrible situation.

One of your friends or work colleagues has gone on urgent business far away, and has been robbed of their credit cards, wallet and mobile phone.

But you can be a hero! You can rescue them by galloping in to the rescue by sending them some much-needed cash.

Of course, it’s nothing but a scam – sent by a criminal who has broken into the account of one of your online friends.

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Here’s a scam message that one reader received this morning via LinkedIn:

LinkedIn scam. Click for larger version

Subject: i am dieing here!!!!

I'm sorry for not telling you about my trip to Cardiff Wales, United Kingdom, I'm writing this with tears in my eyes, I came down here for an urgent business and never knew things would be bad, I got robbed at the park of the hotel where i lodged, lost my credit cards,cell phone and all cash but luckily for me i still have my life and passports with me.

i wish i could call you but the hotel lines are faulty.

I'm currently having some problems at the moment and i need your help in getting the hotel bills sort and the hotel manager won't let me leave until i settle the bills.

I'm freaked out at the moment don't know what to do down here just need to get out of this deep mess and get back home.

Please don't inform anybody about this and let me know if you can help

You’ll notice that the message says that the hotel’s phone system is down. Scams such as this always discourage you from making phone contact with the alleged victim, as a simple phone call would probably make it clear very quickly that you are talking to an imposter.

In all likelihood, if you responded to the plea for help you would ultimately be asked to wire some money via the likes of Western Union to help your colleague out of their pickle. And even though, in this case, the person sending the message is supposedly in Cardiff in Wales, they could in reality be based anywhere in the world.

We’ve seen similar “stranded” scams in the past many times on sites such as Facebook, and tricksters even break into the email accounts of US senators in an attempt to fool people out of their cash.

If you don’t look after the security of your online accounts, the scammers could be sending out a sob story to your friends and colleagues next time begging for money to be wired to them.

By the way, if you have an account on LinkedIn, why not join the many people who have already joined the Naked Security LinkedIn group where we discuss the latest security stories.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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