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The first I knew about the scam was when I got a call from a journalist saying that if she had €2,500 she’d lend it to me.
Next, one of our clients phoned saying that he was on the way to his bank to withdraw €2,500 and asking where he should send the money to.
This was followed by another phone call from a favourite supplier saying he’d received a request to send a large amount of money to me in Spain.
Then the emails started coming in…a colleague wrote to say she could lend me $2, while another mentioned that he was broke, but if he had the money he’d send it to me.
In between the calls and emails, I was busy trying to figure out what was wrong with my Yahoo email account, and why was I being asked to provide passwords to all my email accounts – even those that I’d long forgotten about.
Then the penny dropped. I was being scammed.
And this is the scam email that was sent to most, if not all, of the email addresses in my Yahoo address book:
“Hope you get this on time, Sorry I didn’t inform you about my trip to Spain for a program, and am having some difficulties here because i misplaced my wallet where my money, credit card and cell were kept. Presently my passport and my things have been held down by the hotel management pending when i make a payment.
I need you to help me with a loan of 2,450 euros to pay my hotel bills and get myself back home. I’ve been to the embassy and Police, but they are not responding to the matter effectively, I will return the money back to you as soon as I return home, let me know if you can be of any help? ASAP. I don’t have phone where I can be reached.
Please let me know immediately, Cheers Charles.”
The scam began about three weeks ago with a series of seemingly official emails from “Yahoo” saying they were updating their systems and could I provide my account details and password: For example:
We are sorry to inform you that we are currently working on securing our server, during this process accounts which are not manually verified by us will be deleted, Please confirm and submit your information for manual verification.
Information which is to be provided is below:
Date Of Birth:
Warning Account owner that refuses to update his/her account after two weeks of receiving this warning will lose his or her account permanently.
Obviously I deleted the email and didn’t think any more about it. A few days later I received another one requesting the same information, however this one suggested quite strongly that if I didn’t respond within 48 hours my account would be deleted – permanently!
Like the previous one, I deleted it, but it got me thinking “what if....”
The last email that landed in my inbox could only be described as HEAVY! It said:
“Send your information including your password or “YAHOO” will delete your email address within 12 hours – and you’ll banned from having another ‘YAHOO’ address ever again.”
Yep, you guessed it – I filled in the requested information and hit return.
Next day the proverbial hit the fan.
So what has this to do with customer service you ask?
Amongst the many concerned, and some not so concerned calls I received that morning, one just blew me away. It was from the receptionist at the Quest Parnell Apartments in Auckland offering me assistance and accommodation at one of their associate hotels in Spain while I sorted things out. And…it’s been three years since I stayed there!
Now that’s what I call customer service. And if we ever go back to New Zealand you know where I’ll be staying.
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