Yesterday I told you about a rather humorous email I got from someone named “Randy Gartner”, who was in peril….stranded in London, having lost his wallet and he needed 3500 buckeroos to get home! Yeah, sure fellow. Today I had two followup emails..
This one is from Matt, an account executive here at WBAL-TV:
“Randy Gartner has informed me that someone or some group has hijacked his email directory. Yesterday I received an email supposedly from him that he was stranded in London and needed to borrow $3545. Randy has assured me he was never in London and did not need the money. If you happen to receive the same email, please delete it immediately. ”
And a reader wrote me too saying she too knew a Randy Gartner who worked at this particular company….and the would never have written an email like that.
So I called poor Randy after hijacking his phone number from Matt. When did he first find out about the scam? Yesterday morning around 6:45 am, when his next door neighbor called and said, “Randy, I didn’t know you were in London..”
“Bernie, what are you talking about?” says Randy…and then he learns the bitter truth…that his Verizon email had been hijacked and the scam emails, sent to his entire contact list. So embarrassing. And because Randy is in marketing , that contact list is pretty extensive. So, he did the next logical thing…rushed to the computer to send a blast email to all his contacts, saying “Hey, that is a scam email…I’m not in London, I’m not in trouble…don’t reply!!”
Here’s the scary part….wait for it….his entire inbox and contact list was…gone…disappeared….blank as the day it was created. No doubt so he couldn’t do exactly what he was planning to do. And that my friends, is most unsettling…that someone far away can somehow, hijack your email and talk to people you know, and ask them for money.
Most people who received it, Randy says knew something was off…the odd wording, that he would ask them for money….but still, they were concerned that someone they knew, might be in trouble. He got a call from a friend at the Masons, of which he is a member…who said in all seriousness, “Randy, you know you can come to your brothers if you’re in trouble..” And it’s nice to know there are people like that, willing to lend a helping hand….but you sure don’t want their help going to a scam artist. So Randy is sadder, and wiser…he says he will still use email …of course he will. But he’ll be more careful about the ones he responds to, like a request for an information update. He’ll pick up the phone instead. And now he’s in touch with the police and the fraud squad at Verizon to try to figure out what happened and how, and by whom. I felt kinda bad, because I really thought it was a made up name and stuff…I had no idea a real person here in Baltimore had been hijacked. Be careful people….