**UPDATED** As of March 2018, this scam is still going! Thanks to Twitter travel experts Mapping Megan, Just a Pack, Pete Martin, Melvin of TravelDudes and Mike of Bemused Backpack for their input on this.
This article in the Guardian tells of the latest travel scam.
What happens is that hackers get into your email account (Gmail in these cases) and pretend to be you. They email everyone in your address book telling them that you've been mugged and you need money - and very helpfully, how to get the money to you! Of course, the money is sent to them instead.
They also delete all your old emails and address book, so you can't email your friends and family to tell them it's a scam.
This is a horrible scam on 2 levels - not only does it involve hacking to scam money out of people, but it does it by playing on people's kindness and concern for their friends and relatives. We at The Career Break Site have in fact received one of these from a friend, but because we're horribly cynical, realised it was a scam (that and the fact it simply didn't sound like our friend).
So if you're about to set off on your travels, here's how to stop this happening to you:
- Set up a different email account for going travelling. This is a good idea anyway as you might not have the same kind of security as you do at home (eg if you're using internet cafes or guest wifi networks).
- Decide on a password for real emergencies and share this with your friends, family, colleagues - everyone in your email list. Obviously send this out by your old email account, or tell people in person. That way, they'll know if something's really from you.
- Share details of this scam with everyone you know - you could stop other travellers' families from falling for this convincing scam, as well as your own! Forewarned is forearmed.