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Burbank, CA - Recent Email Scam Hits Jewish Clergy

Published on: September 1, 2010 07:01 PM
By:  NBC LA
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Burbank, CA - Rabbi Mark Sobel was awakened Wednesday morning by calls from friends and relatives all over the country.

He was the latest victim of a scam. All of his e-mail contacts received the following message:

I’m writing this with tears in my eyes,my family and I came down here to London, United Kingdom for a short vacation. unfortunately,we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed,all cash and credit card were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.

We’ve been to the Embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in few hours from now but we’re having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let us leave until we settle the bills. Well I really need your financial assistance..Please, Let me know if you can help us out?

Am freaked out at the moment!!

-Mark

None of this is true. Sobel, of Temple Beth Emet in Burbank, was at his home in the West Valley.

But since he had an extensive number of contacts, many of the people who know him might have thought he was on vacation.

In fact, he told NBCLA that one member of his congregation who lives in San Diego actually called him from the bank—she was about to wire “him” money.

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Another actually sent the money, but was able to stop the Western Union transaction before it went through.

Sobel was not able to send a legitimate e-mail to his contact list, since whoever sent out the scam also wiped out his contacts.

Sobel reported the scam to both the police and the FBI. His son traced e-mails that had been sent to him and they believe they know where this latest version of the scam made have originated.

“We live in a time, as clergy, when we want to reach out and help people. But I find this doubly onerous,” Sobel said.


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Read Comments (20)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 01, 2010 at 07:00 PM Glassman Says:

I received this from a different Rabbi-a few months ago

2

 Sep 01, 2010 at 07:07 PM Anonymous Says:

old news this exact email is months old I have received a few... they use many diff names!

3

 Sep 01, 2010 at 07:12 PM memyself Says:

there was an article in the mishpacha magazine about this recently.

4

 Sep 01, 2010 at 08:32 PM bigwheeel Says:

This scam is (unfortunately) alive and kicking. About a week ago I received a similar e-mail (supposedly) from my attorney, who has an office in Manhattan. With the following; "I went to Nigeria for vacation. Thieves broke into the hotel room and stole all the passports, credit cards and airline tickets. Please send $2,000 or $3,000. When I get back I'll return the money to you, I promise". When I first saw the e-mail I was surprised. I finished all transactions with his office Two Years ago. When I read the content I was shocked. But the bad and broken English gave it away. I didn't believe the sob story in the e-mail for a minute. An attorney with an office in a prestigious building on 42nd Str. should beg me for $3,000. Unfortunately, there are some naive (and / or) greedy people who fall for such scams.

5

 Sep 01, 2010 at 08:48 PM Anonymous Says:

I got the same thing last week about a cousin of mine who lives in Israel. My brother decided to call their house first to find her home. I guess people are quick to help and sent them sensitive information.

6

 Sep 01, 2010 at 09:03 PM Walter_Sobchak Says:

This same thing just happened to my mother. She got calls from out of the woodwork and had no idea what was going on. It was very embarrassing to her. Fortunately none of her contacts has any money so the thief did not get away with any loot. They just keep getting more and more clever.

7

 Sep 01, 2010 at 09:10 PM Anonymous Says:

I also received the same email at work about an emloyee working with us. we called the employee to see if this is a true story and she said she never left this country and she is allright.it seems they hacked into her personal account and took all her contacts. dont send your money till you verify the facts..

8

 Sep 01, 2010 at 09:30 PM Tzi_Bar_David Says:

That e-mail is coming in from all over the past week. Hard to believe anyone took it seriously.

9

 Sep 01, 2010 at 10:09 PM Gefilte Fish Says:

Just go over to Mr. Bartowski in burbank he'll help you out with all your computer issues, including nun-chucks.

10

 Sep 01, 2010 at 10:20 PM DRSLZ Says:

This email has popped up for various people. If you have any doubt about the veracity of an 'emergency' email, you can do as I did: email the 'sender' and ask to speak with him by phone (you'll get a reply how this is impossible, blah blah blah) or ask him a question that only the real person would know the answer to, such as: what is the name of your dog? (even if he doesnt have a dog, such a question alone might work).

11

 Sep 01, 2010 at 10:40 PM Anonymous Says:

You should post the names of any Yid dumb enough to send money to such scam emails. I'd like to sell him/her a bridge in the Negev.

12

 Sep 01, 2010 at 11:07 PM ajewishwoman Says:

There was an excellent article by Debbie Shapiro about this recently in Hamodia Magazine, with pointers for protecting your computer.

13

 Sep 01, 2010 at 11:24 PM Deraiydim Says:

We just had a sucha email that my Shvigir is stuck in China and we should send money. Burich Hashem nobody sent the money but laiyda it too was a scam.

14

 Sep 01, 2010 at 11:54 PM Anon Ibid Opcit Says:

Pretty typical. The Jewish wrinkle is a new one.

The success of this sort of scam is the reason you're getting fewer emails asking you to send money to Nigeria to get a dead dictator's fortune out of the country.

15

 Sep 02, 2010 at 07:26 AM Matzoslocal101 Says:

#13,
"but laiyda it too was a scam"

Laiyda that they were trying to steal your money or Laiyda that his shviger wasn't really stuck in China?

16

 Sep 02, 2010 at 07:38 AM leftbrooklyn Says:

THis has been going on for years. I received a similar e-mail from a business acquaintance. It did not sound plausible because there are people nearer and dearer than me to help him out. I deleted the e-mail and a few hours later he circulated an apology.

17

 Sep 02, 2010 at 11:50 AM raykaufm Says:

Reply to #4  
bigwheeel Says:

This scam is (unfortunately) alive and kicking. About a week ago I received a similar e-mail (supposedly) from my attorney, who has an office in Manhattan. With the following; "I went to Nigeria for vacation. Thieves broke into the hotel room and stole all the passports, credit cards and airline tickets. Please send $2,000 or $3,000. When I get back I'll return the money to you, I promise". When I first saw the e-mail I was surprised. I finished all transactions with his office Two Years ago. When I read the content I was shocked. But the bad and broken English gave it away. I didn't believe the sob story in the e-mail for a minute. An attorney with an office in a prestigious building on 42nd Str. should beg me for $3,000. Unfortunately, there are some naive (and / or) greedy people who fall for such scams.

To #4: I'm sure that you immediately recognized the fraud. Nobody, but nobody, ever goes to Nigeria for a vacation.

18

 Sep 02, 2010 at 11:54 AM raykaufm Says:

Reply to #4  
bigwheeel Says:

This scam is (unfortunately) alive and kicking. About a week ago I received a similar e-mail (supposedly) from my attorney, who has an office in Manhattan. With the following; "I went to Nigeria for vacation. Thieves broke into the hotel room and stole all the passports, credit cards and airline tickets. Please send $2,000 or $3,000. When I get back I'll return the money to you, I promise". When I first saw the e-mail I was surprised. I finished all transactions with his office Two Years ago. When I read the content I was shocked. But the bad and broken English gave it away. I didn't believe the sob story in the e-mail for a minute. An attorney with an office in a prestigious building on 42nd Str. should beg me for $3,000. Unfortunately, there are some naive (and / or) greedy people who fall for such scams.

A couple of years ago I had to go to Nigeria on business. When the Passport Control Officer ask my reason for visiting Nigeria, I told him that I was looking for the guy with the $26,000,000 bank account that wanted me to help him claim it. We both had a good laugh.

19

 Sep 02, 2010 at 01:50 PM kollelfaker Says:

#18 you it was phoney?

20

 Sep 02, 2010 at 03:48 PM Jimmy37 Says:

People don't learn. Don't wire money to foreign countries.

21

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