‘Tis the season for giving, and some emails you get sent may actually be about giving you something. But hold up, because you might be caught in a scam.
As long as there’s money to be taken, criminals will be interested in taking it off you, and online, it seems to be more common than ever. We can’t go a week without hearing about some new scam attempting to remove money from hard-working individuals, and lately, the trend seems to be about charity.
It’s the season, after all, because we’re hearing into the season of giving, and that’s what some new emails are essentially promising, reviving the Nigerian prince with his millions of dollars scam and instead relating it to a real-life news item.
And not just any news item, but a local one, at that, as Australian philanthropist Andrew Forrest is apparently contacting Australians to tell them he is giving a donation to them, connecting it with a news story on News.com.au.
But while the story is true and Forrest does plan to give $400 million of his fortune to communities, to cancer institutes, to education, to creating equal opportunity and to giving every child their best chance, donating to individuals is not part of the Forrest’s plans.
However that’s not what emails going around are suggesting.
“I’m on a yearly mission to aid reputable individuals worldwide, as I believe in ‘giving while living.’ My wife and I have selected you to receive this year’s donation sum,” the emails write. “Kindly acknowledge this message and I will get back to you with more details.”
Of course the email is fake, because there’s no such thing as a free lunch, particularly when that “lunch” is a large sum of money that is appearing out of the blue for no reason.
Unfortunately, emails like this are just the start of what’s going around, as Trend Micro’s Tim Falinski told Pickr.
“As we go into the holiday season, it’s a time of giving and charity but unfortunately there are some people who seek to take advantage of this festive spirit,” he said. “Like all email-based scams, it’s essential to exercise caution and take a closer look.”
Falinski told Pickr that “minor details can be a huge sign of a scam”.
“For example, if the email address doesn’t seem genuine, if you haven’t signed up to the organisation’s database in the past, and if basic information is spelled incorrectly,” said Falinski, suggesting that these are major signs of a scam email.
Not every email has those telltale signs, though if you look a little deeper and do some research, you may find the answers waiting.
A quick search on Forrest’s company site Minderoo reveals it is aware of these scams, with a post dated September 14, 2018. “These emails and their authors are in no way connected with Minderoo Foundation or its chairman Andrew Forrest,” the website reads.
Checking the email, the person who it was originally written to appears to have been the email address it comes from, which suggests the email came to you (and us) as part of a BCC field. That means you’re part of a list, likely of a lot of other people this is going to.
The return reply address is also different, spreading the emails around, and are in no way connected to Forrest’s company, Minderoo. With no emails including including the “minderoo.com.au” domain, it’s pretty easy to see the email is a fake.
There’s also a listing for similar scams on the ACCC’s Scamwatch webpage, with fake charity scams reportedly heating up.
Ultimately, we’d suggest to take emails from people you don’t know with a grain of salt, because with so many people that are easily scammed, it’s a good idea to make sure you don’t become yet another statistic.
If you get an email that seems too good to be true, do some research, check over the text and address, and make sure you don’t get caught out.