Jun 5, 2012
Twice in the past month, I have received urgent emails asking for money from friends whose accounts had been compromised by hacker-con artists. Both emails were blatantly obvious for what they were. The first was supposedly from a colleague stuck in the Philippines whom I would be far more likely to call for help than vice versa. The second came from the account of a former employee who I know is too careful and prudent to have had her wallet lifted in Spain. Neither fooled me for a minute.
Rather than just ignore the emails, I decided to respond. To the first, I replied, “I think you are a little too savvy for this?” To which the fraudulent writer wrote back, “Oh no ... I know this sounds weird and you wouldn't believe me.” I was impressed by the imposter’s perseverance and own savvy in including the correct name of the non-profit organization my colleague heads under ‘her’ signature. That was a nice touch.
However, I also noted that the email address did not match the one I had for her in my address book. It was very close except for the easily missed period that had been inserted between her first and last name—the devil is always in the details. When I asked the impostor in my next email how they got her information, our short-lived virtual encounter came to an abrupt end.
(If you get an odd email from a friend, you may want to take a moment to verify the address carefully. Inserting or removing a period or an initial is a common trick of the trade.)