By Jason Sethre
Fillmore County Journal
I was recently alerted by a friend that she had been targeted with a scam via her work e-mail. She received an e-mail from her boss that said, “Are you available? I have a request I need you to handle discreetly. No calls, Just reply my e-mail.”
The e-mail address said her boss’s name, but if you dragged your mouse arrow over the e-mail address it was not her boss’s e-mail address.
But, she didn’t notice that at first.
She responded with the impression that it was a sincere e-mail from her boss, “I am available.”
Her “boss” replied, “GREAT! I aimed at surprising some of our diligent staff with gift cards. This should be Confidential until they all have the gift cards as it’s a surprise and you will one for yourself too. Can you get this done today? and how soon?”
She responded that she could drop what she was doing and go get them.
Her “boss” continued, “Sounds good. I need 10 qty of Amazon gift card $200 value on each (total $2,000) you should get them at any local store around you. After you get them scratch the back and take a clear picture of each card and then send it to me on here. Please keep the physical cards and receipt for reference. Your reimbursement is assured. Let me know when you are on your way to the store. Thanks.”
When she arrived at the store, they would only allow for her to purchase $500 worth of Amazon gift cards. Then the store manager asked her questions about her purchase. She started to figure out this could be a scam.
She called her boss on his cellphone, and her boss knew nothing about purchasing any gift cards. Those e-mails came from a scammer looking to dupe her out of $2,000. They used her boss’s name on the e-mail address, which anyone can do.
Fortunately, the scam was caught early on. Otherwise, this friend could have been out $2,000.
So, you always need to drag your mouse over the e-mail name. If the e-mail address doesn’t look right, it is most likely a scam.
These scams can happen to anybody, so it is important to be on high alert at all times.
The other day, I received an e-mail that was very generic but yet created a sense of urgency. “Your Password has expired and your firstname.lastname@example.org Account will be closed. Click below to continue with the same password, to avoid loss of important files and messages.” They wanted me to click on the link in the center of the e-mail message. If I did click on that link, I’m sure my computer system would have been compromised.
So, don’t click on anything that looks suspicious. And, these scammers are not just targeting people on their computers. They are going after people on their phones, too. Some victims of these scams have opened a text message or e-mail, and clicked on a link that gave hackers direct access to their entire contact list. This perpetuates the scam even further, unfolding another layer of scamming opportunities.
Another thing to look for is broken English in the e-mails. Often times, the scammers reside in another country, and their English may not be smooth in their writings.
Never pay with gift cards. Once they get the codes off of your gift cards, that ship has sailed and the money is gone. You’ll never hear from them again, unless you are ready to offer more gift cards.
Some scammers will say you can call them at a TTY number, which is a telephone relay service. They will have a translator speak on their behalf. The scammers seem too legit to quit. And, they are smoother operators.
Lastly, when in doubt, call the person who they are referring to in any of these scams. If they are saying your grandchild has been detained and will only be released from a jail in Mexico if you wire them money, that’s probably a scam. Unless, of course, you know your grandchild has been known to have a little too much fun in Mexico.