In September last year, the first of several targeted email scams arrived in Mount Royal inboxes. Since that time we have see a plethora of these scams spread across campus. Up to now that have all been emails from a supervisor asking a report to do a favor for them.
However, we must have ended up on some “the Best People to Scam” list as this week the scams have gotten very creative. First up is a dude in Indonesia contacting Wellness Services to help him sell a helicopter (I actually think this might be legit). Second up is an email to the MRFA insisting a charge from their store has appeared on a bank statement (definitely not legit). Check out the pics!!
As entertaining as these emails are, that is not the reason why I am sharing them with you (well maybe a little bit). I am sharing them to give you a heads ups that MRU is being actively targeted and we all need to be on our toes. If you receive any email that is out of the ordinary, please take a closer look at it. If you aren’t sure if it is malicious, forward it to email@example.com like your colleagues did and we can take a look. Everyone who reports an email gets a cool sticker. Be a superhero and report those malicious emails!
The following email is showing up in inboxes around campus.
This fake email is not from the IT Service Desk. Normally I would go through and show you all the things that are wrong with this email. However, as many of you have been readers for a while, I thought it would be nice to have some fun with this one.
Take a look at the email and then comment below on what you think flags this email as phishing. Next Thursday, I will go through the comments and add any that were missed. Let the commenting begin!
The following email showed up in MRU inboxes this week.
There are two things that make this email so convincing. First Melanie’s email address is, in fact, correct. No, her email wasn’t compromised. It was spoofed. Second, they name a colleague as the person who will reimburse you. A nice touch actually. With such a convincing email, how the heck are you supposed to know this is a scam? Well, there are a few tells.
First off, the grammar is rather crappy. Not what you would expect from the president of the MRFA. Second, if you try calling Melanie to confirm she sent the email, you get a phone message saying the MRFA office is closed and she isn’t returning messages. If the office is closed, why would she be sending money to vendors? Third there is a sense of urgency. The email says the money needs to be transferred today. Lastly, she is asking you to take money from your personal account. That is a HUGE red flag. Why on earth would she ask you to take money from your personal account to pay a vendor? Nothing makes sense in this email except the email address and name dropping.
The best way to protect yourself from this type of a scam, is to go slow and question everything. If something doesn’t add up, call the email sender to confirm that they sent the message. If you aren’t sure you can forward the message to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will take a look at it for you.
That is just what Megan did. Thanks to her quick actions, we were able to track down those who received this message, notify them it was a scam and stop the attack in its tracks. Way to go Megan, you are a superhero!! Be a superhero like Megan, report malicious emails to email@example.com and help protect your colleagues from scammers and hackers.
For Megans efforts, she will be receiving a commitment sticker. Want your own sticker? Report an malicious email to firstname.lastname@example.org or come down to see me on Main Street on August 20th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Pick up your sticker and spin the prize wheel to win cool swag.
Since September, the Mount Royal community has been targeted by a gift card scam. With this scam, criminals send you an email that looks like it comes from your supervisor asking you if you are available. If you respond, they ask you to purchase gift cards and send them photos of the redemption codes. This past weekend another 300 or so Mount Royal inboxes received one of these scam emails.
Fortunately, we had more people reporting them than we had people responding to them. Some of those that did respond sent out personal information such as where they were located, photos and their plans for the weekend. To our knowledge, no one went as far as purchasing gift cards. We are thankful for that.
Realizing that you gave scammers personal information about yourself just feels creepy. It is also dangerous. The criminals can then take that information and use it as content in malicious emails that are sent to yourself or others. This makes the emails seem legitimate increasing the likely hood that someone will be tricked.
In addition to being dangerous, conversing with the scammers encourages them to continue targeting Mount Royal. If they get a response to an email, they know it is only a matter of time before they convince someone to follow through and purchase those gift cards. Ignoring their inquiries will not stop the attempts, but it will reduce their frequency.
The best way to defend yourself from giving out personal information to criminals is to check the sender’s email address before you read the body of the email. That way you have a better idea of who you are talking to before you respond. They may still be a hacker, but the odds are much smaller. Just by taking this small simple step you greatly reduce your chances of sharing information that you wish you hadn’t.
I am truly delighted with the number of malicious emails that are being forwarded to email@example.com. The Mount Royal community is doing a great job of letting us know what to look for and helping us defend their data. There is one question that people keep asking though, what is the difference between Spam and a phishing email? I thought I would take a moment to clarify.
- Goal is to sell you something.
- It is sent to hundreds or thousands of people at a time.
- Reading the email does not generate an emotional response.
- It may or may not contain links
- Clicking on the links will take you to the organizations website.
- Goal is to steal your data or use your workstation as a tool to access data on other people’s devices.
- It can be sent to thousands of people or just one or two.
- Reading the email generates an emotional response.
- It may or may not contain links and or attachments.
- Clicking on the link or opening an attachment takes you to a fake web page and/or loads malware onto your device.
The easiest way to determine if what you are dealing with is spam or phishing is by examining the purpose of the email. If it looks like they are trying to sell you something, then it is probably spam. If it looks like they are trying to confuse or trick you, then it is likely phishing.
Spam emails should be marked as spam by clicking the stop sign icon in the Gmail menu bar. Phishing emails should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you aren’t sure which one it is, forward it to email@example.com and we can let you know.
The latest phishing attempt is quite lovely. The criminals have made it purposely vague with the hope that it will peak your curiosity. Here is what is looks like.
If you have recently ordered something online. curiosity could get the better of you. If you click the link, this is what you find.
You were promised a PDF, which is usually but not always safe to open. However, you are given a Word document instead. It’s the old bait and switch. Having navigated to this point safely, you are more likely download the document. Of course if you do, malware is downloaded with it.
Remember troops, stop and think before you click. Stay safe out there.
The latest scam to make the rounds is an email that appears to offer the recipient an opportunity to apply for an admin position. It looks like this:
The email comes from the Vice President of an organization called the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation. It is a real organization and the sender’s email address appears to be legitimate. Most likely, the sender has had her email account hacked and the scammers are using it to send out these fraudulent emails. The poor grammar and hotmail email address are clues that something isn’t quite right.
Without responding to the email, it is impossible to know exactly what the scam is. However there are some standards tactics used. In the first one, once you send them your resume they offer you an interview but charge you a fee of several hundred dollars to participate. No company will ever charge you to be interviewed.
In the second tactic, you are either given an interview through text or email or just offered the job outright based on your resume. Once you accept the position, they send you a cheque. You are then asked to deposit the cheque into your account and then immediately transfer the same amount of money from your account to another. Of course in a few days their cheque bounces and your bank account is minus those funds.
No legitimate employer will offer you a job without a proper face to face interview. Nor is there a legitimate reason for an employer to send you a cheque and ask you to deposit it in your account only to have you immediately transfer it to another.
To protect yourself from job scams:
- Do not pay for an interview or for interview expenses.
- Do not accept a position that does not require a face to face interview.
- If you are asked to make purchases or transfer funds on your employers behalf, make sure any fund transfers or cheque deposits clear before you do so.
- Research perspective employers. Make sure you can reach your contact person through the company’s main contact number or email listed on their website. Check for reports of fraud involving the company.
Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Just ask this woman from New Brunswick.
The gift card scammers are giving another go at trying to convince employees that our new president Dr. Rahilly is trying to contact them.
This time they have managed to get his name correct, replacing the much loved Tin with Tim. They have also changed up the email address going with presidant to make it look more official. Although if they had spelled it right, it would have been more effective.
This is just another attempt at a gift card scam. If you check the sender’s email address before you read the body of the email, you will be less likely to have emotion override rational thought and reply in haste. If you are contacted by the “presidant”, just delete the email.
Mount Royal has been targeted by the gift card scam for months now. It seems like every month we receive a dozen or so reports of emails that appear to come from Mount Royal supervisors asking employees if they are available. The scammers hope they will get a response. Once they have one, they attempt to convince the employee to purchase gift cards and send them the redemption codes.
Last week the scammers came very close to being successful. A Mount Royal employee responded to the scammer and was about to go out and purchase gift cards as instructed when they thought they should double check with their supervisor’s admin. This sober second thought saved them hundreds if not thousands of dollars and a lot of embarrassment.
You are probably thinking you would never get sucked in like that. But dollars to doughnuts, that employee who responded thought the same darn thing. When our emotions get engaged, rational thought is bypassed. Hackers know this, that is why they create emails designed to do just that. You may think you cannot be tricked however when you receive an unexpected email that appears to come from your boss, your emotions get engaged. Rational thought is gone and all you want to do is follow instructions and make your boss happy.
So how do you defend against such an attack? When you open any email, the first place your eye needs to go to is the sender’s information. You need to engage rational thought before emotions can be triggered by what is in the rest of the email.
Check the email address and make sure it is legitimate. If the email address is not a Mount Royal address then you know it isn’t coming from your supervisor and it can be deleted. Only once you have established that the email address is correct do you read the email itself. Remember that the email may still be malicious. Just because it looks like it came from your boss, doesn’t mean it did. Their email may have been compromised. Look for red flags and if anything seems amiss contact your supervisor to make sure they did indeed send the email.
A new phishing email is showing up in MRU Inboxes and Spam folders. It looks like this:
The first question you should ask is why would you receive an email about unread messages? However, if the panic over missing out on 2 messages throws common sense out the window, a glance at the sender’s email address should alert you. If you miss that clue and click on the REVIEW NOW link in a desperate attempt to avoid missing out, it takes you to this web page:
If you have gotten to this point, there is a good chance you will think that MRU has a secret email service outside of Gmail that you weren’t aware of. As a result, you will have no issues with entering your Mount Royal login credentials to access the mysterious messages. That is exactly what the hackers are hoping you will do. Once you do, Bob is your uncle, and they have control of your Gmail.
Let me assure you that the only email messages you will every receive from Mount Royal University will come through and be received via Gmail. You will never have to login to another email service to receive messages.
If this or a similar emails show up in your Inbox or Spam folder, delete them. If you ever have questions about the legitimacy of an email that you have received from us, please forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to investigate for you.