Over the weekend, several people were targeting by phishing emails from scammers purporting to be the Dean of the College of ACES. You can see an example of one email chain below.
Tips on spotting a scammer operating like this:
1. Check the sender’s email address – if it isn’t from their @illinois.edu address, write to them directly (i.e. a new message) and ask if they sent the message
2. Grammar and typos. Yes, even Deans and Department Heads make mistakes, but if there are several, and/or the “voice” of the email seems off to you, even if the email is from an @illinois.edu address, contact the sender directly (i.e. a new email) and ask if the message came from them.
3. Check this website for examples of similar messages, like this one. It’s possible a campaign has already been circulated, even though this is your first time receiving one of the emails.
4. When in doubt, and especially if you’ve clicked a link or opened a suspicious attachment, contact your IT support team! We’re always happy to help.
Example of impersonation scam from this weekend (click for larger version):
There have been several e-mail scam attempts circulating lately. They all follow the same pattern of impersonating a senior leader in a unit/college and start with some version of an ambiguous message like “are you available?” or “I’m in a meeting and need your help.”
If you get an odd message like this from a member of the college, please check the sending email. All of these emails are coming from non-Illinois email addresses. That’s the first clue it’s a fake.
If your replied to any of these messages, you’re ok as long as you didn’t provide them any personal information like your password. Had the conversations continued, you’d likely be asked to send Amazon gift cards or some other form of monetary transaction. Because we now have 2FA protecting our passwords, the scammers have shifted focus and are playing on our desire to be of dutiful service to our fine leaders in our units.
Remember that any ambiguous emails should be treated with a high degree of skepticism!