An Interview with a Phishing Super Spotter

by Laura Baker, CyberWyoming It’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month! Do Your Part! #BeCyberSmart

CHEYENNE – A retail manager in Cheyenne, who asked to remain anonymous, is a phishing e-mail super-spotter.  She has submitted the largest number of phishing emails to phishing@cyberwyoming.org in 2020. 

She has the ‘eye’ to spot fraud, so we decided to ask her what her secret is.

You send a lot of phishing emails to phishing@cyberwyoming.org, how do you recognize they aren’t real?

First, I check the account.  When I get an email for Netflix, for instance, I know I don’t have an account, so I  know it is probably fake. Then, I check the sender’s address.  Most of the time, there are no identifying company names, just a long bizarre email address, so I know it isn’t real. Sometimes I read the email and see there is something wrong, like a word spelled wrong, instead of customer you are a costumer, for instance. Sometimes, using the Netflix example, there may one letter in the name that is italicized and that isn’t the way Netflix writes their company name.

What motivates you to submit scams to phishing@cyberwyoming.org?

I saw an article on TV about CyberWyoming’s program and I want to submit these scams to help others so they don’t get hurt by something that looks real. I have elderly parents and we have had credit card fraud and you just don’t need that in your life.  I don’t want my older parents or in-laws to have anything happen to them.

What is the most real-looking phishing email you have seen?

One from Amazon, because I do have an account there.  But, the sender’s address wasn’t an Amazon address.

How long have you had your email address?  Do you think it has been breached before?

Probably over 15 years, and yes, I’m sure it has been breached. Whenever I start to get strange emails, I change my password to something new.

How do you manage your passwords?

I have an app that stores them.  I also have a phone with face id recognition and I love that!

What advice would you give to others?

Don’t respond to emails that you didn’t initiate and check the source. How did you learn about the topic of phishing?
Just experience.  The first one I remember was a scam that said my payment information was incorrect.

What scams do you see the most of?

PayPal.  I know they are scams because I don’t have a PayPal account anymore.

It isn’t just emails.  People are getting so many calls on their cell phones that look like they are from a local number, but they aren’t.  I was trying to get computer equipment for our office and I kept telling people I wouldn’t do business with them unless they could give me a real, local number.

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