In my browser I have set two perma-tabs and faviconized tabs that are always open. (Check out this great hack from smarterware using Firefox extensions). So even when I'm not actively using one of those browser windows, I'm constantly logged in to Facebook and my Google Reader.
While working elsewhere today, I heard the familiar chat pop come through my speakers indicating that someone was sending me messages. I flipped over to the Facebook tab and found that my friend Micah, whom I have not spoken with since our high school graduation, and whom, other than this Facebook connection I have shared maybe one sentence of "hey how ya doin'?" initiated the following conversation:
hey man! what's up!?
not good at the moment
what's going on man
i'm stuck in London,England at the moment
not a bad place to be stuck, I'd say? flight delayed?
i was mugged at gun point last night
oh wow...down town?
here in england
did they beat you up?
all cash,credit card and cell were stolen off me
i was hurt,bruises all over my neck
awe man, I'm sorry...did they take a passport?
i still have my passport with me
i've been to the US embassy and the cops here
they're both not helping issues at all
not working together?
they asked me to wait for 3weeks,but my flight leaves in less than 3hrs from now
but the hotel manager won;t let me leave
At this point, I'm trying to picture his scenario, the embassy, the cops, and the hotel thing. These pieces didn't elide in my head, almost as though he doesn't want to admit something--but I kept going:
because you have no credit card?
yeah to settle the hotel bills
are you there on business?
i need your help urgently
OK. I paused. At this point, a lot of questions are going through my mind. Remember, I haven't seen or heard from this guy since high school. I'm beginning to have doubts, but I continue.
what do you need?
i need you to lend me some few bucks to settle the hotel bills
i'll pay you back tomorrow as soon as i get back home
i don;t want to miss my flight
so you're there on business? why do you need ME to do that? what can't your company do that?
i came here on a business trip by myself
no one else state-side to support you? are you in business on your own?
no one to contact now
please help me
hang on a sec
At this point, I'm smelling something funny, but just to get a second opinion from a guy who also knew Micah from high school, I called my good friend Dan. Right away he declared it a scam. I didn't want to be played, but I didn't want to leave an old buddy in need. Dan's idea: ask him something about himself that only he would know. Yes. Of course:
hey help me out here.
I need to verify you are who you say you are.
go ahead ask me any question
what was the name of the group you founded at Kings?
I imagine at this point if the scammer is on Micah's page, he's probably glancing through his profile trying to find an answer. Notice the time that elapses before his response:
you kidding me?
nope. you would know.
And that's how it ended. He never finished the talk and we never went any further. I emailed Micah from the address given on his profile page but I haven't heard back from him. I hope our hunch was right and he's not at this moment sitting in the hotel lobby in London waiting for someone to bail him out.