Durham Regional Police is issuing a fraud alert about an email scam where victims are receiving an email from someone on their contact list requesting money and/or gift cards.
The email appears to come from someone you know, who advises they are away and in some sort of emergency situation. They will then request you assist them by sending money through Google Play gift cards, Amazon, VISA or some other form of gift card or cryptocurrency.
Police are warning to NOT send any money or gift cards until you can confirm the person you know is in fact the sender of the email and that they have an actual emergency situation.
If you cannot reach the sender, contact someone you know who also knows them and attempt to validate the ‘story’ presented.
The likely scenario, police say, is that the person is not away, there is no emergency, and they have no idea what you are talking about. This scam is usually an indicator that someone in your contact list has had their email hacked. Stop responding to the originating email address.
Actions to protect yourself:
Step 1: Copy your list of contacts in the email account then DELETE the email account.
Step 2: Create a new email account with a different provider. If you use Gmail, try Outlook. Create a completely different email handle. Do not use your previous handle. Limit the information you provide in the application. Ensure there is strong account protection. Use a passphrase that is 14-characters or more, a combination of numbers, lower case and capital letters as well as figures versus a password.
(Note: When creating an email account do not use any part of your name (first or surname) in the account address. Be innovative and create something obscure.)
Step 3: Upload your contact information. Send email correspondence to those on your contact list, less the email address of the originating correspondence, advising of the scam and your new email address.
(Note: If you send email correspondence to the address that originally wrote you have now just advised the ‘scammers’ of your new email.)
Step 4: Continuously monitor your email traffic for similar scams.