Recently one of my colleagues posted on the station's Facebook page, asking if there were people out there looking for second jobs this holiday season. We were subsequently overwhelmed by people offering to work for us. That was not the intent. The goal was to profile someone for one of the newscasts that day, but the story is illustrative of the fact the economy remains challenging and people continue to try to find extra ways to earn money.
It's not surprising then that Della was initially intrigued by the email she sent to us that I've posted below. The subject line reads "GOOD JOB FOR YOU" and offers her $200 for each time she takes on the role of a mystery shopper and fills out an online survey after the fact. The sender tells her that most of the time she'll only need to spend 20 minutes on the task.
$200 for 20 minutes is a great deal. Sign me up.
Except, and I'm sorry to report, there tend to be lots of "excepts" when it comes to unsolicited email you get in your in-box, take a closer look at the sender. The email came from a "firstname.lastname@example.org." The way the internet is governed, we know that any email coming from an "edu" site is authorized by a school. It's short for education.
In this case gwu.edu is the handle for all emails from George Washington University. Problem is, there is no such person as "pkearns" at that school. No record of the email.
Like so many of these emails, the sender's address is spoofed... meaning it's made to look like it's from someone it's not. It's really not hard to do.
I didn't have access to Della's original email so I can't see who she would have responded to if she didn't forward it to me, but I know it would not have been email@example.com.
Getting some extra money is always nice and the company listed below, Market Force Information, is actually a legitimate mystery shopping company, but this email did not come from them. They're being victimized in some ways here as well as their reputation is being used for illicit purposes.
Thanks Della for sending this and for hitting delete shortly afterwards.
Subject: # GOOD JOB FOR YOU #
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2013 03:57:35 +0800
You will be assigned to visit a shop.
You need to "pretend" to be a normal potential customer who is looking for a particular service or product.
You will then finish an on-line questionnaire to share with us your customer experience.
19 Years old or above.
Can speak local language well.
Can read and write English.
No experience needed Like Shopping.
You will get $200 for each assignment. Most of the time you will only need to spend 20 minutes on the visit.
1. N a m e :
2. Genders & A.g.e :
3. Physical A_ddress :
4. $tate\C!ty :
5. Zip Codes / Phones :
6. O.c.c.u.p.a.t.i.o.n :
Thank you for participation. Your response would be greatly appreciated.
We will contact you immediately as your application has been received.
Market Force Information