Here’s one from the “My friend’s email account was hacked and this is what was sent out” pile:

HELLO,

Sorry to bother you with this, I took an urgent visit to MANILA, PHILIPPINES to see my sick cousin who is suffering from a critical Uterine fibroid and must undergo a hysterectomy surgery to save her life. The news of her illness arrived to me as an emergency, she's going through a lot of pain at the moment and she needs family support to keep her going.

The doctors have advised that it is necessary that the tumor is operated soon to avoid any complications. I hope you understand my plight and pardon me.The estimate for the Hysterectomy surgery is 8,000 USD I have already spent approx. 5,200 USD cash towards her treatment so am wondering if you can assist me with a loan of 2,800 USD to make the necessary arrangement for the surgery to be carried out.Your help and support will give her a chance to live a normal life once again. I will surely pay you back as soon as I return. I will appreciate whatever you can help me with. Kindly let me know if you can be of help so I can send you my western union details since I cannot operate my bank account from here.

These are more typically seen popping up via hijacked Facebook profiles, but they do also work their way through email from time to time too.

In both cases, you should seek to contact whoever sent you the missive via alternative means, or have a mutual connection seek them out if that’s not possible.

There’s a very strong likelihood that what you’re looking at is a scam mail, and should you send the money via Western Union you’ve pretty much waved goodbye to it forever at that point.

Western Union have a number of tips on offer for spotting potentially bogus wire transactions.

Note that so-called “Emergencies” are on the list as one of the most common types of fakeout scammers are willing to deploy to try and part you from your money. There are also a number of variants listed elsewhere, including emergency hospital bills requiring settlement, ID / money stolen while travelling and family tragedies / being held in customs.

Scammers are always on the prowl for easy cash, and compromised email addresses and social media channels are just two of the ways they’ll try to get it. Don’t make it easy for them!

Christopher Boyd