Email Scammers Strike Get Threaded
Last weekend, I joined hundreds of thousands across the world who have had their email account hijacked from Nigerian fraudsters.
Most weekends I am working and a computer is not too far away from me, but this past weekend I headed off a few hours away from my home to Kingaroy for my uncle's 80th birthday party.
Just after 11.30am I felt my Blackberry buzz -an email had come in. The email was from facebook- 'Welcome Back to Facebook' it said and on opening the email it stated the old Get Threaded account that had been deactivated months before, had been reactivated. If I wasn't responsible for this to get in touch. Now that was strange.... but I shrugged it off to deal with when I got home.
Not less than 5 minutes later I heard my phone ring in my bag but as I was at the party it would have been rude of me to answer, especially as I had not long arrived. A few minutes later another call. A few minutes later another one. I snuck off to the side and to my astonishment there were messages from my Get Threaded artists telling me I had just sent an email to them with something about a gun being held to my head! Cold shivers went through me.....what was going on! So on the phone I got and this is what I found.......
Email 1: Sent to almost every contact in my email account!
The wording of cell phone in the email(even though you all know I love the US) gave this away and if I had been visiting Scotland you would have known about it!
What I did not like was the mention of gunpoint and like me others got a little concerned.
Email 2: This is what you received if you replied to the above
No computers were in sight- remember I am at a 80th! I race next door to the RSL Club and they happily oblige for me to use their computer. It was the weirdest feeling.... logging into your email and entering your password, the password that you know is right and it keeps telling you the password is incorrect! They had locked me out of my own account!
I lodged a complaint with GMAIL immediately and one of the boxes states ' do you think your account has been taken over' so I begin to see that this is not new to them. Like me, you have probably received the emails begging for money etc but they don't usually come from one of your contacts. Visions of my bank accounts being drained fill my head but there is nothing I can do until or if I get my account back.
Back home I gain access again and the first thing I feel is violated. This must be what it feels like when someone breaks into your home, to have someone snooping through your personal things. Once back in to my account I find all my settings changed and a new forwarding address to a Get Threaded yahoo account. I have never had a yahoo account! I then realise my contact list is gone-yes gone but luckily this is easy to retrieve back through GMAIL (they must be used to this happening).
By morning after many- 'Very important Liz', 'Are You OK Liz?' and 'Liz, there is a hacker!' emails and phone calls (thank you to all for caring and letting me know) I decide to email that yahoo account with the headline ' STOP! WE ARE AWARE OF THE EMAILS AND THIS ACCOUNT-POLICE HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED!!! SCAMMERS! Seconds later the email bounces back-the account is closed and they have moved on to the next email account they can get their hands on. When checking my IP log on my account, there was account use firstly in Sydney and then not long after in Nigeria!
So I have learned a few things from this experience that I would like to share with you:
1. Even though I change my passwords regularly- they will never be doubled up again. Everything will have a new password that won't be re-used. (Sometimes I would use the same password as I have so many passwords to try and remember!) The deactivated facebook account had the same password so I beleive they are are accessing those closed accounts.
2. My passwords will now contain a mix of capital,small letters and numbers like they suggest (but most of us don't do as it makes it even harder to remember).
3. My passwords will change on a regular basis.
4. I created a new hotmail account and had all my email and contacts sent to that so I will have a online backup of my account just in case I ever lose my main account. I also opened an account with Backupify which will weekly backup all my emails and contacts. I also then have my main host copies of my emails as well.
5. I will check my IP log regularly to see if there is any unauthorised access as well as checking my settings to make sure no-one has gone in and added forwarding addresses that I am unaware of.
Apart from the 1500 contacts of mine that received these emails, this story made front page news of the paper today as unknowingly the nigerian scammers also emailed the newspaper as they were in my contact list! Click Logo to View.
I emailed around to my main contacts an email so they would not worry, that I was okay and not in Scotland. A good friend of mine replied with the following words which made my day and made up for all the inconvenience of these scammers 'I wasn't worried :) she wrote ' I knew you'd hold your own in Scotland!' Hahaha...such confidence!
Please make sure to share this around...the more that know that this is going on the better!