Strange word filling Gmail chat box
March 27, 2009 9:04 AM   Subscribe

When I logged into Gmail recently, the contact list in my chat box was mostly populated by a number of instances of the word "sharfai" -- which corresponds in no way to any of my actual contacts, didn't show up in a Gmail search, and has next to no results in Google search.

The list in the chat box looked like this: five "sharfai"s, two of my actual contacts, another "sharfai", two more contacts, another "sharfai", another contact, and so on. Most of my contacts weren't displayed, and those that were all had the grey "offline" icon to the left of their names; none of the "sharfai"s had any icon. When I moused over any of the "sharfai"s, I got the ordinary bubble that pops up in Gmail, but all of the options were greyed out, and there was none of the information that's normally in the bubble, like e-mail address. I had the green "online" bubble next to my name. (Finally, it's probably irrelevant, but the "Search, add, or invite" text broke the right-hand boundary of the text box at the top of the window, going out to a couple pixels beyond the right-hand boundary of the chat box.)

The next time I logged in, "sharfai" was gone, and some of the people who'd been displayed as offline were online. "sharfai" hasn't appeared since, nor has anything similar happened.

What could have caused this? I'm worried in particular about someone else having accessed my account, but I didn't remember to check account activity to see if any unknown IPs had accessed my account, and it's been too long now. Two final, probably irrelevant additions that I add out of my ignorance of what is and isn't important in computer dilemmas: The night before this happened, I kept getting notices after finishing a chat with someone and having logged out that said "[X] has not received your message"; the last notice was quite a long time after I sent my last message. Finally, I had added my AIM account to Gmail chat but then wanted to get rid of it, and the only way I could see to get do so was by adding in a random username/password, so during this episode a banner reading "Oops. Your AIM(R) session has expired." was under my name in the Gmail chat box, although it had been there before and was there afterward until it spontaneously disappeared.

Thanks for any help you can provide.
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (2 answers total)
this sort of thing happens to me from time to time. It especially seems more prevalent since I installed the 'Google Redesigned' Firefox extension (no idea if you use this as well). I don't get the 'sharfai' word in particular, but I will often get 3-4 instances of a contact that I have never seen before. You log-in to AIM through gchat too?

Not sure where it comes from, but I think it's mostly harmless. Gchat is a bit buggy (hence you occasionally get the notice that your message has not been recieved).
posted by nameless.k at 9:09 AM on March 27, 2009

To be safe: Change your password now.

Then check your secret password answer and your backup e-mail address under Settings.
posted by devnull at 10:56 AM on March 27, 2009

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