Cautionary tale re paying for overseas birding trips

To: Peter Marsh <>
Subject: Cautionary tale re paying for overseas birding trips
From: Dave Torr <>
Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2013 16:35:59 +1100
I would also add that there have been many scams where a friend of yours
gets their email hacked and then you get requests from them to send them
money as they are stranded overseas - usually via Western Union. So even
the "only use it to send to friends" bit needs a LOT of care to make sure
that it is really your friend!

The advice of your brother is good - technially email can have a "reply to"
header that may be set to send responses to someone other than the person
you think has sent the mail - so the could say it was from "" but
the reply to is to "" and "" may know nothing about the
email. It is usually possible to look at these headers if there is any hint
of doubt (and when sending money I would always be suspicious) - there are
so many email systems out there that it is not possible to give general
advice on how to do this, but I guess if you google "reply to" and the name
of your email software you may find out.

On 28 January 2013 16:25, Peter Marsh <> wrote:

> Dear Birders,
> I appear to have had a very lucky escape when paying for a birding trip in
> East Africa. I had a recommendation to a local birding company in the
> country concerned and communicated with them a number of times regarding a
> private trip I was organising. This communication was all done by e-mail
> with them using a single e-mail address. After a number of exchanges I
> received an e-mail (apparently) from the same e-mail address asking me to
> send the money to them via Western Union. I did this and received an e-mail
> from the (apparently) same e-mail acknowledging the receipt of the money. I
> also received advice from Western Union that the money had been picked up..
> A few days later I received an e-mail (again from the same e-mail address)
> asking if I was still interested in the trip! I responded referring them to
> their acknowledgement of the money. That night I had a phone call from the
> company advising that they knew nothing of the money or the
> acknowledgement. I sent them copies of all the exchanges. I have now
> received advice that someone at their end has been arrested and that the
> birding company will recognise the payment and my trip is on.
> In researching the situation I have come to understand 2 key things
> for sending instant cash to a friend or family member through WU but should
> not be used for business transactions. This is because the security is
> pretty small. If you receive a request from a bird guide to send money
> through WU I suggest you phone the guide and say you need bank details.
> money sent through a bank is more traceable.
> KEY. My tech savvy brother has made me aware that it is quite easy for
> someone setting out to do a scam  to send an e-mail appearing to come from
> e-mail address A but for the reply to actually go to a different e-mail
> address B. If you have the genuine e-mail address in your address book and
> use that to address the e-mail rather than hit the reply button you know
> what address the e-mail has actually gone to.
> I stress that the birding company and Western Union appear to have behaved
> honourably at all times. I also appreciate that it is only through their
> efforts the perpetrator of the attempted fraud appears to have been caught.
> I will, however, be more careful in the future and thought it worth sharing
> this experience with other birders who might be thinking of chasing birds
> in distant parts of the globe.
> regards
> Peter Marsh
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