Best Way to Spot “Phishy” E-mail? Check the Grammar!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Christopher Elliott wrote an article recently for The Washington Post that offered great suggestions for spotting "phishy" e-mail from shady characters who want to steal your identity and perhaps some cash.  He focused primarily on "spear phishers" who customize their sneaky e-mails to make you think a personal friend has sent you an SOS. 

Elliott described his own experience  of receiving one of these spear-phishing e-mails from what appeared to be a reader who said he was stuck in London and wanted Elliott to wire him $940 in cash so he could get home.  I had a similar experience last spring when I received an e-mail appearing to be from the son of a friend of mine who said he'd lost his wallet in San Francisco and was stranded with no cash and no credit cards.  He asked me to wire him $200. Fortunately, I tracked down the mother and confirmed what I already suspected–her son was not in San Francisco, and he hadn't lost his wallet.  I was immediately suspicious because my friend's son is an English major, and the wording was odd and awkward.

Elliott made an interesting point about spear-phishing and other types of fraudulent e-mail. 

Since many of these crimes are committed by people who don't speak English as a first language, bad grammar is the biggest clue.  If you notice any awkward language or phrasing, it should set off alarms.

I've made this point before with regard to e-mails that promise you've won money or that, if you will deposit money for someone overseas, you can keep a portion of it.  So, one more reason to know your grammar and usage.  They could save you some money and some hassle, not to mention embarrassment.


5 Responses to “Best Way to Spot “Phishy” E-mail? Check the Grammar!”

  1. Salvador says:

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  2. admin says:

    Sorry. I try to only post comments that are relevant to the material or make a comment that is useful to my readers. Try again.

  3. Great Post. Thanks for sahring!!

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