We’re finding that generally people are getting good at spotting those hoax emails that arrive ever more frequently. The ones from HMRC that inform you you’re due a tax rebate, or how about the ones from PayPal saying that your account needs to be confirmed and you should log in at a given url. And we all know what happens next!
There have been a couple of new ones recently that we hadn’t seen before, and we’ve got the feeling that they’re going to become more and more common. They look pretty convincing – we’ve received two of them in the last couple of weeks. Here’s the first one:
It looks fairly convincing doesn’t it? It’s a well formatted email, it’s written in reasonably good English, and there are logos in the footer showing the awards the company that ‘Mr Atwood’ works for have achieved. But there’s something not quite right.
First up, would somebody really spend the time to email you asking for prices, ask you to call them back, but say that you might not be able to reach them? If they were serious but knew they would be unavailable for the day (but were free now) wouldn’t they just call you in the first instance? Surely in the time it takes to write the email they could call and have a quick telephone conversation with you, which could then be followed up with a message? Asking you to call them back seems a bit strange to us.
Next, check out the email address. A ‘gmx.co.uk’ email address can be set up by anyone. It’s kind of like Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo – anyone can get one. Do a quick search on the web and you’ll find that ‘gmx.co.uk’ isn’t a company looking for a quote from you, they’re simply an email service provided by the 1&1 hosting group. While you’re at it check out that telephone number. It looks like a mobile number, but it isn’t. More on that later.
Finally, note how there’s nothing specific in the message relating to what you do. So in our case there’s no reference in there to wanting work done on their website, or any other work carried out specific to what we do. This email could have been sent to anyone and everyone, and that’s because it has.
We received a second email the next day:
So it’s a similar email, same kind of content, the same gmx.co.uk email address and the same logos in the footer, but there’s one difference, and that is that it’s been sent to one of our other domain names. The domain that this email was sent to is a different business doing different work to our usual elmnet.co.uk address, so now we know it’s a scam.
And what happens when you call the number? You’ll more than likely get a voicemail message, but remember to keep trying as there could be work here for you couldn’t there? Well, no. There isn’t any work waiting for you, but there will be a large telephone bill as you keep calling the premium rate number they’ve set up.
So, generally speaking, carefully read every email you receive from a person or business who you have never heard of. Just stop and think about it for a second, and if anything looks even a little suspicious then a few minutes of detective work could save you from falling into a trap.