Albany businessman caught in international scam

Harold A, Kosola, the victim of an international E-mail scam, works in his office on Newton Rd. Monday morning. / Mike Manzoni

A local businessman is warning others to be cautious after he was caught in an international E-mail scam that almost cost his friends $2,000.

Harold A. Kosola, the president of Kosola and Associates Inc., an aeronautical engineering firm, received a call from friends last week asking if he was in England, and needed any money.

The scammer, Kosola said, concocted a story in which Kosola was walking in a park near his hotel when he was robbed and left without any money.

The E-mail, which asked that $1,750 be wired to a London address so that he could fly back to the United States, was sent to Kosola's several dozen contacts on his AOL account.

Although most of his friend's who received the E-mail immediately suspected it was illegitimate, one of them almost got duped.

"My friend from Virginia called me. He said that I got an e-mail from me that I was in England and I was broke and needed money. I said, "No, I'm here â" I didn't go to England."

But a story about Kosola being stranded overseas is not so farfetched since he regular travels to more than 40 countries to do business with airlines around the world. This, Kosola said, made the scam more believable.

Authorities said scams like this one have been around for decades. "You need to be extremely cautious, especially if someone is saying they need money or it appears to be someone you know," said Captain Jimmy Sexton of the Dougherty County Police Department.

Kosola said he does not know how the scammer received his information, but said he remembers filling out a questionnaire from AOL. He know suspects that questionnaire may not have been from AOL.

He has contacted local authorities, and he plans on contacting the police and newspapers in London.