Wednesday, August 19, 2020

It's scam day!

 The last nine hours have been interesting, to say the least.

Late last night, I received a message from a European friend saying that her credit card had been stolen. Now if this had been a scammer, the message would have continued like this:

I have no money now. I need you to go to a Walmart and buy some gift cards. To reach me, call this Google Voice number before noon Nigerian time - I mean French time.

In this case, however, it wasn't a scam. This message truly WAS from my European friend, and the thief had run up charges on the stolen credit card. However, since it was a credit card and not a debit card, things will be sorted out quickly.

After that, I went to sleep...and woke up this morning to find out that a former neighbor was now following me on Instagram. So I followed her back, and she started talking to me.

How are you doing today..?

I was going to craft a personal response to my friend, but (luckily, in retrospect) I kept it vague and simply answered

Doing well, other than the heat.

So my friend responded:

Am doing pretty good,I saw your name on GFA list,have you heard about them?

Well all right. I haven't spoken to this friend in a couple of years, but this isn't sounding like her. So I searched for the acronym "GFA" and noticed this CBS News article in the search results. Here's an excerpt:

For Shellie Drummond, it started when she found the Facebook profile for a friend from years back, named Deborah Boyd.

"I was on Messenger and my friend's name came up," she told CBS News correspondent Anna Werner.

Soon "Boyd" was telling her about a so-called government grant she'd gotten through an agent on Facebook. Sure enough, the agent then told Drummond she could get financial assistance from the government. All she had to do was provide some personal information, then send $1,500 in fees, to get up to $100,000 in grant money.

Drummond was scammed out of her $1,500, and I didn't want the same thing to happen to me. So I went back to my conservation with my "friend," and answered the "have you heard about them?" question. 

I have.

I then posted the link to the CBS News article - enough so that my "friend" could see the article title, "Facebook scams: When your 'friends' are actually hackers."

Apparently my "friend" couldn't read the article title, because the attempt to scam me continued.

It is GLOBAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE to help people with money all over the world to take care of kids, house,pay rents and maintain the standard of living for 2020,Have you heard from them?

I didn't respond, because I was busy alerting my real friend (through two avenues) of the scammer and reporting the scammer's account to Instagram for impersonation. (Instagram apparently does NOT support a "phishing" report.)

I hadn't blocked the fake account yet, so "she" sent me one more message:


An hour later, "her" account was no longer found, and "she" is presumably cloning new accounts and moving on to other targets. (Note to self: make sure MY Instagram account is not cloned.) 

Well, all of this Instagram stuff was dramatic, so I thought I'd go to my regular email account before heading to (looking for) work. And I found a message FROM me, with the message title identifying me as the customer of a bank for which I was NOT a customer.

Turns out my email provider DOES provide the ability to report for phishing.

And how was YOUR morning?