Ukraine e-mail scam warning

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RESIDENTS are being targeted by fraudsters pretending to be hitmen and robbery victims pleading for money from Ukraine in the latest e-mail scams to hit the Capital.

Marketing and business consultant Mark Gorman received more than a dozen calls from friends yesterday morning after con artists stole his identity and sent out e-mails telling recipients he had been held up at gunpoint while on a “short vacation” in Ukraine and needed cash to settle hotel bills.

It came as retired council administrator Walter Dods was shocked to open an e-mail on Sunday which claimed to be from an assassin hired to kill him. Mr Dods said he wanted to warn other computer users who may have received the e-mail and been alarmed.

Police today advised the public not to engage with “suspicious” e-mails and contact the force if they are concerned.

Mr Gorman, who runs his Think Hard consultancy in South Queensferry, said: “They got hold of all my contacts. These people change your e-mail address very slightly in a new account so you don’t notice. That way if anyone e-mails back it goes to their account.

“I’d no idea it happened until my phone started ringing off the hook with people saying, ‘Are you really in the Ukraine?’ I got dozens of calls and tweets.”

The e-mail, written in poor English, claimed Mr Gorman had been “mugged at gun point last night at the park of the hotel”.

Mr Gorman added: “This is the second time this has happened to me. Last year, an e-mail went out that I’d been kidnapped in Kuala Lumpur. This time it’s gunpoint robbery in Ukraine so I seem to be quite unlucky.”

Mr Dods, 59, was shocked to open a different scam e-mail which read: ““Someone very close to you wants you dead by all means. I have been hired to kill you. The person also came to us with information that he wanted you dead and he provided us with your details on how to kill you. Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE?”

Mr Dods, who formerly worked for Midlothian Council and lives in Leith, said: “It’s terrible to try and take advantage of people who may be vulnerable and genuinely worry that they are in danger.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “People should be wary about any suspicious e-mails they receive from an unknown source and it is advised they don’t engage with the sender. Never give money to somebody you don’t know and if you have any concerns, you can contact police on 101.”