SECURITY ALERT: New instances of an old email scam

SECURITY ALERT: New instances of an old email scam


CSIT has received multiple reports this morning regarding a new wave of an old email scam.  This particular scam is one which we have seen before, but has been distributed widely enough to warrant a reminder.

The scam email message arrives with the simple subject line "Urgent Request".  The body of the message tells the story that the purported sender is in a meeting, cannot use their phone and want the recipient to contact them about making some important purchases.  In this case, the apparent sender of the message an NWU faculty member, but close examination of the sender address will reveal a fraudulent address.  Note, however, that we have seen other NWU administrative staff and faculty names used as the purported message sender for this type of scam.  Of course, the real message sender is no one at NWU and any email client software which reveals the full email address of the sender will show that the message does not come from an NWU account.

The aim of this scam is the engage the recipient in an exchange of messages asking them to purchase something of value (typically gift cards) and to transfer that value to the scammer's email or text address.  The scammer is usually ready with some story to explain why this is a special request for which they cannot use their NWU account.  Unlike phishing scams which attempt to entice the message recipient to immediately compromise confidential information, this scam requires a longer engagement and targets direct financial gain.

Instances of this scam have been prepended with a warning regarding the suspect nature of the message.  CSIT will do what we can to clean these from NWU mailboxes, but we cannot assure that all such instances will be caught by our removal processes.  Should you find a message like the one described above, please delete it from your mailbox.  As with other suspicious messages, if you have any doubts about the authenticity of an email message in your NWU mailbox, please contact CSIT for assistance.