On the morning of June 20th I received an email from “Brian T, President & CEO, Innovative Payments Association.” While this alone was not odd, in the email “Brian T” asked for my “cell phone number for an urgent task.” I thought this was a little strange considering Brian had my cell phone number. Also, what urgent task could Brian have for me at 8:30am on Juneteenth, a federal holiday? Perhaps naively, I responded to “Brian T” with my cell phone number.
Minutes later I received a text message from an unknown number pretending to be Brian Tate telling me he’s “rushing to a conference” (on a federal holiday?) and that he needed me to purchase $500 in Apple Store gift cards to provide to a client. I immediately recognized the request as fraudulent and cut off communications with the scammer. After examining the initial email further and calling the real Brian Tate to confirm the scam, I realized that “Brian T” was emailing me from a Gmail account, texted me from an out-of-state number that had no connection to Brian, and even misspelled Brian’s name, all red flags for potential scams.
While the scam was obvious to me, the communication was convincing enough that I initially took the bait. The scammer had done his research, knew who Brian Tate was, and that I worked with him. The email appeared to come from him, and it was only after further inspection did I discover it had not.
While I was fortunate enough to recognize the scam before it was too late, many are not. Email scams such as the one I was exposed to are on the rise, and everyone must use some basic tips to ensure they don’t become victims. According the FBI, below are some tips to protecting yourself online:
With the proliferation of email scams over the last couple of years, everyone should follow the above tips to avoid being targeted by scammers, and if you are targeted as I was, be able to quickly recognize and mitigate any potential damage.
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