The subject line read: “Buyer Refund – Case Resolution – Response Required.”
The message landed as a priority alert, with an angry red exclamation point.
The return address was “email@example.com” – at least, that’s how it appeared in my inbox.
But there was something strange about this.
Inside, the message read: “Sorry, message content could not be displayed.”
Now that part wasn’t all that unusual. That happens all the time with emails that have too much visual content. I have to give permission to display the images.
Then, over a link, it read, “Show original message.”
Sure, I’ll just cl –
— wait a minute.
What’s going on here?
That return email address? When I let my cursor hover over it in the body of the email, it now said “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
So which was it, Paypal or eBay? I haven’t sold anything on eBay in at least two years, and my last purchase there, while recent, went smoothly. I knew I wasn’t the focus of a case dispute, and I certainly hadn’t instigated one.
I let my cursor hover over that link asking to display the original message.
It pointed to a scam site.
The purpose of this email was either to hit me with a virus or, more likely, to trick me into giving up my PayPal/eBay account details so it could hijack my accounts.
My email controls typically catch this sort of nefarious spam, but this was a nasty bit of business that almost got me to click through. It was short and to the point and took advantage of one’s natural curiosity about a supposed complaint.
The experience is a good reminder to ignore any strange emails. If any email asks for personal information, skip the embedded links and go straight to the original, secure website to verify information.
I can only imagine that Russian hackers have felt emboldened with their many recent victories. Let’s keep them starving, shall we?