An email scam is making the rounds, and this time, the email isn’t coming from a “Nigerian prince.” Instead, it’s a little bit more clever. The person sending it claims to be someone you know who has lost their passport (and usually the rest of their wallet) overseas. Alternately, they may claim that all of their credit cards have been stolen, and that the hotel they are staying in is holding their passport until they get their money. Either way, they need you to send them money now, preferably via Western Union. Reporters for both the Lansing Journal and the Chicago Tribune have recently experienced variants of this phishing scam.
Don’t fall for it. Look, a lost passport overseas can be unpleasant, to say the least, but it’s a situation that can be resolved with a trip to the nearest US Embassy.
If you lose your wallet as well as your passport, the US Embassy can assist you with that, also. From the Department of State’s website, here is a rundown of what they can do for Americans who are stranded overseas:
If destitute, Americans can turn to a U.S. consular officer abroad for help. ACS will help by contacting the destitute person’s family, friends, or business associates to raise private funds. It will help transmit these funds to destitute Americans.
ACS transfers approximately 3 million dollars a year in private emergency funds. It can approve small government loans to destitute Americans abroad until private funds arrive.
ACS also approves repatriation loans to pay for destitute Americans’ direct return to the U.S. Each year over $500,000 is loaned to destitute Americans.
The moral of the story? Don’t send any money overseas based on an email. If you think your friend is really in trouble, request a phone call, or call the US Embassy where they are claiming to be stranded to confirm the story before you start throwing money at them.
Also, if you or someone you care about experiences a lost or stolen passport overseas, don’t reach out to people by email, as you’ll likely be mistaken for a scammer. Instead, contact the nearest US Embassy for help. Expediting companies like RushMyPassport.com can’t help you if you’re outside the US, but the good news is that the US Embassy can replace a lost passport very quickly.
Of course, if you’re still in the US, we’d be happy to help you replace your lost passport in as little as 24 hours. Contact us today!