It's possible that thousands of people received this frantic email today, sent from Robert Ballinger's email address:
I'm writing this with tears in my eyes,my family and I came down here to Madrid, Spain for a short vacation. unfortunately,we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed,all cash and credit card were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.
We've been to the Embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in few hours from now but we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills. Well I really need your financial assistance..Please, let me know if you can help us out? Am freaked out at the moment!!
It was obviously phishing -- someone trying to get money using Ballinger as bait -- or was it? What if Ballinger was stuck in Spain, held hostage by a hotel and getting no help from the U.S. Embassy and reaching out to friends and colleagues?
The letter was signed "Robert D. Ballinger II," and had a phone number that was close to -- but not the same as -- the cell phone number. The letter did have his correct address.
A man that picked up at the number said he did not know Ballinger and didn't know anything about the email.
Ballinger said Tuesday morning that he was not in Spain. He was, in fact, in Florida for the Republican National Convention.
"If it stops raining," he said, "I'll be having a great time."