I tend to be fairly good at spotting internet scams. I also never click on any attachments or links that are in emails or texts unless I was expecting them or I can be sure it is genuine because the email also contains a personalized message that could not have been generated by a bot. I also tell everyone that I delete unread any link or attachment that is unaccompanied by such a message. But even after being told that, people seem to be so anxious to forward things that they find interesting, that they fire them off that I still keep getting such emails and texts that are promptly deleted.
Then there are those scam messages where the sender’s name is someone you know and they claim that they are stuck in some foreign country where their passport and wallet were lost or stolen and they urgently need money to get home and asking you to help by wiring them money. That is an obvious scam but I have read that elderly people have been persuaded to send money to people they thought were their stranded grandchildren.
Yesterday I received the following message
Just reaching out. Hope you are keeping safe on this pandemic?
The sender was someone who worked at the university where I worked for many years before retiring. I just barely knew her and so was surprised to get this. But still, there are nice people who these days are reaching out to others solicitously. This message was also not asking for anything. Since I always feel obliged to reply to any email that I think is genuine, I sent the following message back.
Thanks for the concern. I am doing well and hope the same with you.
I promptly got the following reply.
Thanks for responding, I am sorry for bothering you with this e-mail. I need to get a GOOGLE PLAY GIFT CARDS for my Niece. It’s her birthday but i can’t do this now because I’m currently away and i tried purchasing online but unfortunately no luck with that. Can you get it from any store around you? I’ll pay back as soon as I am back. Kindly let me know if you can handle this?
Await your soonest response.
Yep, I had been the target of a scam effort. I of course ignored this second email.
It has been a long time since I got scam emails like the Nigerian 419 scam. I assumed that my email address had been removed as being unlikely to be fruitful. But I wonder if the fact that I replied to the first one means that I am now on a list of potential suckers and will get a lot more of them again.