Arroyo Grande police have determined that a scammer in Nigeria was behind the reported break-in of an Arroyo Grande woman’s e-mail account, which led to a fraudulent request that her friends wire money to help her out in a desperate situation.
Police said the woman gave out some personal information in July in response to an authentic-looking e-mail she thought was sent by Microsoft’s Hotmail service regarding her account.
After responding to that e-mail, the woman reportedly noticed a change in the appearance of her account screen, according to police, but thought that it was legitimate.
Police would not identify the woman in order to protect her privacy.
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Investigators say that about two weeks later, a friend who was on the woman’s Hotmail contact list called her about an e-mail that looked to be from the woman.
The friend said a note came from the woman’s e-mail seeking money urgently to be helped out of a “difficult situation” in Cyprus, according to police.
The woman assured the friend it wasn’t her request and then checked her e-mail to discover that her password had been changed and she’d been locked out, police said.
Local investigators say they determined that a hacker accessed the woman’s account using a computer in Nigeria, according to Detective Michael D. Zigelman.
Zigelman said police weren’t able to identify the hacker, which is often the case with offshore scams that are difficult to track.
Before she was locked out of her Hotmail account, the local woman received an e-mail appearing to be from Chase — where she has bank accounts — seeking personal information, according to police.
The woman reportedly contacted Chase, only to learn that e-mail was fraudulent, too.