Email scammers target Albany woman - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Email scammers target Albany woman

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Internet scammers used an Albany real estate agent to try to rip off hundreds of her friends and customers. Con artists took over her Yahoo email account and sent a scam letter to all her contacts saying she needed emergency cash.

Dougherty County law enforcement says they are seeing more of this type scam, and Internet thieves are getting more sophisticated. Lauren Watson was the latest victim, and she wants to warn you about this scam.

Real estate agent Lauren Watson says she has been on the phone all day with friends and customers, after scammers broke into her Yahoo email account, and sent out close to 500 emergency messages.

"You always see it happening, but it's never going to happen to you," Watson said.

The scammers sent out a letter claiming to be from Watson, saying she was on a mission to the United Kingdom. It says "all my money got stolen on my way to the hotel where i lodged along with my bag were my passport was," and then says she needs money. "please i need you to lend me about 1000 Pounds so i can make arrangements and return back."

Then Yahoo shut down Watson's email, so she could not warn people that the message was a scam.

"I had one person who responded back to it, and they sent her an email back, giving them an address where to send the money," Watson said.

Watson said she has not heard from anyone who fell for the scam, and actually wired money. "Hopefully before they do that they would call. They either know me and know I'm not there, or if they don't know me that well they know they are not the one person I would contact."

Notice the bad spelling, wording, and punctuation used in the message. Law enforcement says most of these scammers are in Africa or Eastern Europe, and are not native English speakers. That is one clue it is a scam.

Watson spent much of the night and day on the phone explaining to friends and customers, and trying to get her email going again. "Internet is the majority of how we do our business. So hopefully people will be smart enough to realize not to send someone money because of a letter they got on the Internet."

Watson said she can't really change the way her company does business on the Internet, but she now knows how close to home and dangerous these scammers really are.

Law enforcement Investigators say they have seen an increase of this kind of scam in recent weeks, and warn people always to use caution on the Internet, and never give anyone you don't know your personal information.

Investigators say many times these Internet scammers get information about people off their social networking pages, and use that information to write these scam messages, but Watson does not have a personal page.

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