A Fredericton woman was recently the target of an email scam that preys on the generosity of her friends and contacts.
Hackers took control of her email account and sent everyone in her contacts an email asking for a favour. The email went something like this:
“I need a favour from you. I need to get iTunes gift cards for my niece. It’s her birthday, but I’m currently traveling. Can you pick them up from a store around you? I’ll pay you back as soon as I am back.”
Friends who responded to the email request were told to purchase $200 worth of iTunes gift cards, scratch the back of the cards to reveal the PIN numbers, take a photo of the PINS and send the photo back.
This scam is also called confidence fraud. The scam artists pretend they are somebody you know and care about and play on your desire to help your friend. Once the scammers get the iTunes gift card pictures, they cash in by selling the codes for a fraction of the retail price.
Some of the woman’s friends realized it was a scam and alerted her about the hack. Because the hackers had rerouted replies to the fake email, she had no way of knowing what had happened.
How to recognize this type of scam:
- The email may be poorly written and contain grammatical mistakes.
- You are asked to reveal the PIN codes, take a photo of them and send them in an email.
What to do if you receive an email like this:
- Ignore it and delete it.
- Advise your friend their email has been hacked by calling them. Your friend may not have access to their hacked email account.
What to do if your email has been hacked:
- Contact your email service provider to report the hack. They will help you through the steps to take back your email account from the hackers.
- Change your email password and your security questions.
- Notify everyone on your contact list. Tell them to watch for any suspicious emails from you.
- Scan your computer with an updated anti-virus program.
Where to report:
Report this scam to your local police, the RCMP or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Share details of the scam with your friends and relatives.