Service of Scour Your Emails Before You Act

August 10th, 2017

Categories: Scams, Social Media

Photo: vimeo.com

My junk file picked up this obvous scam sent yesterday from Woodrow Nash, telling me “I need to send some money to Philippines through money gram but can’t send out from here as I am traveling on a cruise ship. Don’t know if you can help me with the transfer, will look for how to get the money back to you as soon as possible.” Woodrow—a stranger–must be kidding. Delete! Nevertheless unsettling that he has my email address.

Here are two recent sophisticated examples that again warn folks to “stop and think” before clicking a link or responding to what looks like a legitimate email. Because one happened to me and another, to a good friend, I had to share.

Being Too Social Can Get You Into Trouble

Some friends, colleagues and clients are in competition to collect the most friends and contacts on their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts. Predators are taking good advantage of this competitiveness and the fact that people move through emails in a rush.

Big mistake: Scoundrels format requests to link and invitations to befriend that look right…but aren’t. Before clicking read carefully.

I thought it odd when the so-called “president of Magazine at Meredith” asked me to link in with him from Florida [photo right]. Last I heard Meredith is headquartered in Des Moines with offices around the country–not West Palm Beach. The photo of the man in the request had fake written all over it. So I wrote an acquaintance at Meredith to report this person, who is actually on LinkedIn as “President of Magazine at Meredith Corp.” The real Jerry Kaplan left Meredith some 10 years ago said the corporate executive. This was clearly an imposter.

Don’t Bank on It

I alerted friends about a warning of a new Cryptolocker virus. One wrote: “Thanks for the heads up. My default position is to be suspicious of attachments, and even of links. We all have to be so diligent these days.”

She continued: “The weirdest thing happened to me. I misplaced my Chase VISA card so I called the company to put a hold on the account while I dig around for it (it’s probably in a pocket or buried under a stack of papers). I confirmed that no unauthorized charges had been made using the card. Everything seemed fine so I exhaled. But then, within an hour of calling the company, I received an email saying that suspicious activity was seen on my account, [Photo below, right].

“It was easy for me to tell that this was a fraudulent message. Have you ever known a bank to use the word ‘earnestly’ in any communication? And since when is ‘online’ two words? The sender’s email address– secur@fraus6.chas.com–also was a giveaway, as was the fact that they didn’t address me by name. Even the indent on the first line was out of place. Clearly, this was the work of a rank amateur.

“Here’s the thing: Is it a coincidence that this arrived in my email box within an hour of calling to report my Chase card missing, or is something more sinister going on? Did the agent I spoke to during my initial phone call record my info and pass it on to an unauthorized person? I’ll never know. All the nonsense going on in the White House has made me half crazy and might be turning me into a conspiracy theorist! Anyway, as I said before, you can never be too careful.”

Have you identified any email oddities that could lead to trouble? What good is it to a scoundrel pretending to be someone else to have people link in with him? Do you think that my friend’s email from a faux Chase bank rep was coincidence or something more threatening? How do you protect your computer and your identity?

Photo: blackenedroots.com

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12 Responses to “Service of Scour Your Emails Before You Act”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    One just can’t be too careful these days! Especially those of us who did not grow up in the digital/smartphone era.

    As you know from the people in your office space, the largest growing segment of employment today is cyber security! I have several cousins taking tests to get into that field. It is complex.

    But people like us have to remember… Never go to a site that you’re not sure of, and be wary of banks that send you emails and ask for passwords. They may be FRAUDS!!!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hank,

    I don’t think falling for a bad link or being scammed or having identity stolen has anything to do with age. Some hip, savvy, 30-something folks I know have run into trouble and often don’t know the source. One, who paid dearly for a heavily advertised service that was supposedly to save her from identity theft learned that someone else was using her social security number which impacted her ability to pay taxes among other things. It was a mess. The service said it didn’t cover her for that!

    Your cousins must be very smart. I wish I had the kind of mind that could flourish in the world of cyber security. However, given all the giant corporations that are as exposed to break-ins as Joe and Jane Doe–not to speak of our political parties–while your cousins will no doubt make good livings doing the work, I fear that none are able to do more than apply a bandaid to a major infection.

  3. Kathleen Said:

    Recently I received an email, which I didn’t open, from a friend who died two years ago. There were four other recipients, either friends or relatives. Although curious, I couldn’t bring myself to open the email. Hmm!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Kathleen,

    Goodness.

    Facebook sends reminders that a friend is celebrating a birthday. It continues to do this even after the person has died no doubt because nobody has removed them from FB or maybe because it is too hard to do. I notice that many write comments about how much they miss so-and-so. It’s not spooky. Receiving an email from a dead person is.

    In the Internet’s infancy, after my father had died, a distant cousin contacted my mother asking if “this was your husband’s social security number.” It was. My mother wasn’t happy.

  5. EAM Said:

    You raise an interesting topic. I once got an e-mail from a colleague who said I’m on vacation and that he was in a foreign country, lost his documents and money and needed money to return to his home. There was some specific information which alarmed me and it also sounded very time sensitive. It came from a hotmail address so I e-mailed his wife to find out more information. I then got an e-mail from his wife a few days later that they were fine but it was a scam. When it doubt, always check it out.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    EAM,

    Quite a while ago I heard from someone who normally would never contact me. She asked if a mutual friend was in Europe as she received the same email you did. She’d called his apartment and nobody answered so she was worried and thought I might know. That scam did very well for a while. I think it may still be sent to older people who are told “your grandchild….” You can imagine the panic.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    The above described gimmicks have been around for a long time. I’ve been hearing from dead people, received notifications from foreign banks that my (non-existent) accounts are in trouble, and received pleas for bail out money from allegedly stranded friends and etc. Attempts to empty the public’s pockets grow daily.

    Over time, I’ve collected a number of email “abuse” addresses from various banks, and simply forward phishing emails to these organizations. This helps them go after and catch/deactivate offending entities.

    As the public becomes savvy, fun happens: One sharp lady, when informed by phone that her grandson was jailed after being found drunk & disorderly, and needed several thousand $$ to be sprung, yelled, “Serves him right. Keep him there & throw away the key!” and slammed the receiver. Our 91 year old grandma had a good laugh — the grandson doesn’t drink!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Yea for Grandma! I thought you were going to tell me she only had granddaughters!

    Come to think of it, I, too, have received emails from one dead person but when I see her name I delete, just as Kathleen did.

    As I wrote, I did report the man who pretended, on LinkedIn, to work for Meredith Corp. Nothing more to be done there.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    Most scams are easily detected, be it by “real mail” (very rare now) and phone as well. Trouble is they are sometimes harder to detect as the criminals learn to clean up their language and visual effects. One tip I failed to mention, is that when a bank, with whom you deal, emails with “rewards” & etc., never use the number provided, but call back on a number which appears on their stationery, credit card, etc. Many times it’s legit, you’re in for big trouble if it isn’t!

    BTW it’s a good policy to ignore Facebook & LinkedIn friend requests from those you don’t know. For the fun of it, I ran a search for some of these people and found them not to “exist.” They are probably after information they aren’t entitled to.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I am tempted but I delete bank rewards emails–that generally land in my SPAM file–precisely for the reason you wrote. It’s not worth having my computer files taken hostage for a pair of sunglasses.

    Facebook or LinkedIn friend requests from chiropractors based in LA–which seem to come my way a lot–never made sense to me in the first place. If I looked in to them as you did, maybe they’d be fake! Hmmm.

  11. HB Said:

    This is a modern twist on those old “freedom-of-speech” versus “right-to-privacy” arguments we used to enjoy when I was in college, and, my thoughts immediately jumped back to a long conversation I had over sixty years ago in Madrid with an extremely savvy, young, middle class Spanish engineer, who had done post-graduate work in the States. (He was unusual in Fascist Spain as he was comparatively poor, and under Franco, only the rich could afford to go abroad to school.)

    My friend’s argument was that, essentially, freedom-of-speech is a luxury only the rich can afford. The poor are better off when carefully, but effectively, managed by a skilled authoritarian Fascist such as the crafty Francisco Franco. He asked me whether the Spaniards I knew told me openly what they thought about the country, and I admitted that they did. Then, he asked me how many of them had ended up in jail as a consequence, I admitted that none had.

    Next, he predicted that as Spain became more prosperous, Franco would ease restrictions on free speech, assembly and the press, and that, eventually, he would turn power over to a young King Juan Carlos. And this is essentially what happened over the next twenty years before Franco’s death in 1975.

    I don’t know what happened to my friend, but he was sharp and I suspect he ended up running some post-Franco Spanish conglomerate. I did know several of his peers who were quite able. On the whole though, what’s happened to Spain since the early 1950s is remarkable.

    I’m no fascist, however, when you think about it, there is definitely an argument to be made, that any startup like the Internet, needs a more disciplined environment in which to grow and mature than any two hundred year old working political system like our country.

    What we have here now is the Wild West, and until a few sheriffs and US marshals show up, I’m not going to trust it any more than I absolutely must.

  12. Anonymous Said:

    HB,

    Good point: Few if any Internet miscreants are caught and so many are overseas and are probably not subject to US laws in any case. Even if they were, it would be too expensive to extradite them.

    But something must be done as this invaluable resource continues to grow and we become increasingly dependent. Even the biggest corporations with deep pockets are clearly unable to protect themselves. As with so many things, nobody cares until they or someone they love is affected.

    Meanwhile, we’ll have to hold on to our hats and keep fingers and toes crossed.

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