Scammers really don’t care who they are trying to talk into giving out information (or money), they just want their lie to work.
Case-in-point, a couple weeks ago we received a submission form from our website. It was an inquiry for unit pricing for a Cisco switch. This itself is not an uncommon request, but we did notice some red flags while researching the company.
Red Flag #1: The request came from a University in Florida. NU does business in multiple states other than Colorado, but we don’t usually get requests for hardware from a company in a faraway state we’ve never talked to or don’t have a connection with. It’s not that we wouldn’t help them, it is just something that doesn’t normally occur.
Red Flag #2: A quick google search of the “contact person” revealed a different email address on the submission form than the one listed on the University’s website.
Red Flag #3: The same google search revealed a different phone number on the submission form than on the website.
Three easily identifiable red flags piqued our interest and IT people DO have a sense of humor, so we decided to play it out and see what they wanted (after we contacted the REAL university to let them know what was happening).
More fun was in-store with this scam. We emailed the quote back to the phony email address and told them that if they wanted to purchase equipment to be drop shipped, it was policy to contact us via phone to get account information and that payment was required up front.
They called! What a surprise that was. Not only because they actually called us back, but the contact person was male. The REAL person at the University is FEMALE! We asked impossible questions, made the process sound extremely difficult, and left the scammer confused and frustrated. It was great fun!
At that point, with staff huddled around a speaker phone, we were all trying REALLY hard to keep it together and not just start laughing on the phone, which was an impossibility and the scammer hung up on us. Fun over. Back to work.
Point of the story is to always be on the lookout. Scammers will try anything and they don’t care if you’re young, old, inexperienced, or technologically savvy; they just want their scam to work. If something seems just a little fishy, do some quick research, ask questions, or just call them back to see how realistic the conversation sounds to you. It is much better to be cautious of strange situations then get duped.