E-mail pleas for money leave Rogue Valley pair poorer

An e-mail scam that claims a friend or family member has been robbed while traveling and needs money has hit two victims in Jackson County in the past week, draining more than $5,000 from their accounts, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department reported.

The e-mails targeted a woman whose son is a Navy medical corpsman serving with the Marines in Afghanistan and a Central Point man whose friend from Salem is traveling in the United Kingdom, sheriff's department spokeswoman Andrea Carlson said.

In each case the victims of the scam got e-mails from an address they knew, claiming that the account's owner had been robbed of everything and needed money — either to get back to base or reach home, Carlson said.

The concerned mother wired $4,100 in two transactions before determining the e-mails were a hoax and her son was still on patrol in Afghanistan. The Central Point man wired $670 to help his friend with travel expenses after a reported robbery in Scotland, but got suspicious when a second e-mail asked for more money.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, sent out a warning early this month that e-mail and social networking accounts were being compromised to send out pleas for money. The hackers send a message claiming the account owner is stranded and in immediate need of money after being robbed while traveling. The e-mails often claim the traveler is in London or elsewhere in Britain.

Authorities warn people always to verify where their loved ones are before wiring money. With a transaction number, anyone can pick up wired money from any Western Union location in the world, so tracking the criminals is very difficult.

— Anita Burke

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