Vancouver Ethiopian Blog

Ethiopian life in Vancouver, BC, Canada

My Cousin in Ethiopia Fell Victim to a Nigerian Phishing Scam

Recently I received an email, supposedly from my cousin. The subject said, Please Help Me. I never got an email with such subject line from my cousin in the past; so I was very curious to find out what kind of help she needed.

I opened the email as soon as I saw it. The email read as follows:


Am sorry I didn’t inform you about my urgent trip to London, I don’t have much time on the pc here, so I have to brief you my present situation which requires your urgent response. Actually, I had a trip to London but unfortunately, for me, all my money got stolen at the hotel where I lodged due to a robbery incident that happened in the hotel.

I had been so restless since last night because I have been without any money. Moreover, the Hotel’s telephone lines here got disconnected by the robbers and they are trying to get them fixed back. I have access to only emails at the library, because my mobile cant work here. So, I didn’t bring it along.

Please I want you to help me with money, so please can you send me 850.00 Pounds so when I return back I would refund it back to you as soon as I get home. I am so confused right now and don’t know what to do, I had been to the embassy and they are currently looking into my case.

Please you can send it through Western Union Money Transfer so that I will get it immediately as it is sent, I want you to please help me transfer the money as soon as possible. Here is the details you need for the transfer below

Receiver’s Name: Zed Solomon*
Receiver’s Address: 328 Mile End Road, London, UK, E1 4NS

Please get back to me as soon as you have the money sent, once you are done with the transfer just help me to scan a copy of the receipt given to you by Western Union or help me to write out the Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN).

I will be waiting for your help. Thank you so much.

Best Regards
Zed Solomon*

* This is a fictitious name, but the email actually mentioned full name of my cousin

Smells Fishy Here

Somethings did not add up here. My cousin lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Although she has traveled in the Middle East, Europe, USA and Asia in the past, she never traveled alone. She always had someone with her. Hmmm …

IP Address

I immediately thought that this email was a fake one. So, I decided to check the source of the email. I got the senders IP address, and logged it in an IP tracker site to find out the origin of the email. Sure enough, my suspicion was confirmed. The email came from Nigeria, not from “London”. The link below confirms that the email came from Lagos, Nigeria:

Google Maps

I aslo wanted to find out the actual address mentioned in the email at “328 Mile End Road, London”. I searched Google Maps for this address. This address did not show on Google Map. However, 327 Mile End Road is actally Queen Mary College, Faculty of Engineering. It makes sense that 328 will be straight across from 327, which looks like an apartment building; perhaps a dormitory for the college.

Click at this link to see the Google Street View of the address in question.

Other clues that the email was actually fake, include:

  • The email didn’t address me personally – It started saying, “Hello,”
  • At the end, the email asked for a scan copy of the Western Union Control Number.
  • The email repeatedly asked to send the money.
  • The email never talked about family, our relationship. No mention of other relatives.
  • If my cousin was really in need of money, she would have called me.

If you are a very cautious person as I am, you will surely figure this out that it was a fake trick to scam people.

How Did the Nigerians Get My Cousin’s Email Account?

I figured that some one had gotten hold of my cousin’s email password and sent a mass email to every one in her contact list. Looking back, the problem started when my cousin got a phishing email asking her to confirm her user name and password a week prior to this incident.

More than One Person Involved

Okay, let us say, one of the email recipients fell victim and did actually send the 850 Pounds requested. How would this person be able to get the money from the Western Union branch in London when in fact the money was sent in my cousin’s full name? I am convinced that Western Union employees are also involved in this scam.

Called My Cousin

I called my cousin immediately in Addis and informed her about the scam email I received. Apparently, I was one of the last people to call her. More than 50 people have already called her from Europe and North America; and she was aware of the situation. I asked her to log in to her Yahoo! email account and change her password, which she already tried unsuccessfully. The Nigerian thieves have already changed her password!

Contacted Yahoo! Mail

So, I decided to contact Yahoo! on my cousin’s behalf. I sent an email to Yahoo! mail and explained the situation clearly. I am happy to report that Yahoo! has reset the password; and as a result, those Nigerian thieves don’t have access to the email account anymore.


The good thing is that no one sent any money to these crooks in “London”.

Yahoo! and/or any other email provider never ask you to re-set your password. So, if you get such emails, just forward it to the email service provider of the sender without opening any link!

Next week, I will write a post on how to select a strong password.


My next blog entry will be on Thursday May 20, 2010.
Mullkam Samint!

May 13, 2010 - Posted by | Ethiopian Businesses, Ethiopian Careers, Ethiopian Citizenship, Ethiopian Culture, Ethiopian Education, Ethiopian History, Ethiopian Holidays, Ethiopian Investments, Ethiopian Media, Ethiopian Parenting, Ethiopian Patriotism, Ethiopian Proverbs, Ethiopian Relationships, Ethiopian Religions, Ethiopian Socials, Ethiopians & Technology, Ethiopians Back Home, Ethiopians in Vancouver | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I have heard stories like these. Thank God this crooks ended up empty handed. It pays off to be always cautious. Thanks for the info.

    Comment by lilly | May 14, 2010 | Reply

  2. Hi

    You are realy a very kind man, who shares your life experience.

    Do it again.

    Comment by kinfe | May 19, 2010 | Reply

  3. Thank you for the info. I get such kinds of e-mails from these crooks and I usually delete the e-mail.

    Comment by surrey | May 21, 2010 | Reply

  4. […] for your Online Accounts I thought about writing this post after my cousin was tricked by a Nigerian phishing scam, as I reported last […]

    Pingback by Tips on How to Choose Secure Passwords for your Online Accounts « Vancouver Ethiopian Blog | May 21, 2010 | Reply

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