There was a desperate plea in Carole Mayhall's e-mail.
"Something very terrible is happening to me now," in an e-mail to every contact in her account. "All my money got stolen on my way to the hotel....I had a trip here in West Africa.......I urgently need your financial assistance." She begged for $2,700 to pay her bills and return home. It ended with "hope to hear from you soon. Sincerely, Carol Mayhall." At the bottom of the page was her e-mail signature, which included her employer and address.
But she wasn't in Africa, she didn't get robbed, and she didn't write the e-mail.
The e-mail was written by someone who highjacked her account and claimed to be her. Fortunately, her friends didn't send the scammers any money.
The FBI says many scammers get access to e-mail accounts by convincing people to click on e-mail links or attachments that allow them to copy passwords and gain access to our information. It's not clear how the criminals got into Ms. Mayhall's account.
The FBI's advice? Never open an e-mail link or attachment if you don't know who sent it.
The FBI has a website that encourages you to feed them everything you know about cyber crimes so that they can crack down on it.
Ms. Mayhall has e-mail addresses, dates and times that may help agents track the people who broke into her account. The FBI website is a good place to get started.