How to Blow a Perfectly Good Scam

Dec 14, 2011

 One of my colleagues had his email account hacked recently. I know this because I received the infamous “I’ve been mugged, send me money” email. This happened to my wife once. Our friend who alerted her also sent along a transcript of a hilarious email exchange in which the spammer tried to impersonate my wife (“how are your sons doing?”; “I’m sorry to hear that the job with the circus didn’t work out”; that sort of thing).

My colleague is probably in a world of hurt right now — I would be if my gmail account was compromised — so I don’t mean to make light of his predicament. But I did think it worth noting that if you are attempting this scam, and the story involves being stuck in London, asking for a money transfer in Euros might be a giveaway.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.