I get so many scam emails, I spend more time blocking and filtering fraudulent ones than reading real ones.
Dear Reader: Congratulations. You have been personally selected as a WINNER in the Gazette’s “lucky-column-reader” lottery that you probably forget that you entered. No matter. CLICK HERE, then fill in your personal details and bank card info and WIN WIN WIN!
I just got a message from the Geek Squad, a tech installation service linked to Best Buy, warning:
“Your annual subscription has been automatically renewed as per the plan you selected. The price is $417, starting June 1.
“To cancel please contact us ASAP and provide your bank card information.”
I knew it was probably one of numerous weekly fraud messages I get trying to worm my account’s info from me so they can drain it.
But I couldn’t be sure. As it happens, the Geek Squad installed my TV last year and I thought I paid a hefty one-time fee. But the message’s sharp web page looked exactly like Best Buy’s.
Was it possible I’d accidentally taken an annual subscription, due for renewal at a shocking $417?
As usual, I checked the sender’s email address atop the message and instead of coming from bestbuy.ca, it was from a firstname.lastname@example.org — in Russia!
That’s an odd location for a downtown Montreal store to be sending out messages to Montrealers from.
So sorry, Yelena, I won’t be cancelling my “renewal” and I’ve added your address to my huge blocked-message junk mail list — though I’m sure you’ll just change your address slightly to email@example.com.
Like everyone nowadays, I get so many scam emails that I spend more time blocking, filtering and unsubscribing from fraudulent ones than reading real ones.
Like many, I’ve increasingly switched to texting. But in the past two years the scamsters have learned to text too, adding to over US$10 billion in online fraud suffered in North America in 2022 alone — mostly by seniors.
My own text inbox is getting overloaded with fraud messages, too. There are fake bank warnings that my credit card’s been cancelled and my iCloud storage is full; huge national lottery winnings from countries I’ve never visited; long-lost relatives I don’t know offering me billion-dollar “gift opportunities.”
There are messages from fake phone companies, fake cable providers and fraudulent Canada Revenue Agency tax inspectors threatening to jail me for fraud.
Also phoney messages from the “Quebec government,” offering to direct deposit a $500 tax credit Premier Legault is giving out.
Fortunately, most scam messages are easy to spot from their grammar, like this recent text from “Rogers”:
“Dear custmer 514-82X-XXXX, unfortunately you ere oercharged on your last bill. Pease say y and follow the procedure o collect your creditt.”
I was tempted to answer: “Dear scammer, I would consider collecting my ‘credit’ if you could spell the word (or if I actually used Rogers). But please accept my invitation to take a SPECIAL fraud email SPELLING SEMINAR I’m offering that’s YOURS for only $2!
“Simply enter your credit card info below and improve your scamming skills NOW!!”
If it’s bad now, wait until artificial intelligence technology like ChatGPT gets into the game, likely soon. These AI bots will probably be able to create personally tailored false web page scams for everyone — then send them out in seconds, inundating eight billion inboxes in 195 countries and 200 languages.
It may not be long before you can’t trust a message from your own spouse. We may have to get ChatGPT-style anti-scam security bots to scan our emails and spot messages from robo-scammers.
It’s already tricky to know what’s real and what’s not. In recent months, I’ve been inundated by so many texts and emails from parcel delivery companies like UPS, Canada Post, Express Delivery and the “Canada postal service,” you’d think I ran a shipping company.
Many are messages saying my package has been held up because I owe about $2 in postage — which I can simply “pay online with any card.”
I trash them all to “junk” and add their addresses to my blocked mail filters. But recently my son called from Toronto to say he’d neglected to mention a package was coming in my name — a present for my wife’s birthday. Why hadn’t it arrived?
I scrolled through my most recently junked messages and one said simply: “After several attempts to reach you by email, your package has been returned to the company in the U.S. and your order permanently cancelled.”
There are so many fakes out there, it’s hard to tell the real thing.
For all you know, I could be FakeJosh who’s hacked the Gazette, so when you send me a message, I’ll put your name on a vast Russian “lottery winner” list and send you endless messages about how to “deposit” your winnings.
What can we do apart from carefully checking incoming email addresses, refining our junk message blockers and trusting no one offering anything online we didn’t ask for?
I think I’ve found a personal solution: I’ve decided to start forwarding all my dubious messages to Yelena in Russia. Her address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’re welcome to use it too.
This article was originally sourced from www.MontrealGazette.com