G-mail recovery
June 17, 2010 2:03 PM   Subscribe

A friend of mine recently had his g-mail account broken into. Someone got in an started sending out bcc e-mails to all the contacts saying he had been mugged in a foreign land and needed cash. The conversation was clearly 419 language and clearly not my friend, so there was no damage. Is there anything that can be done to recover the g-mail address? Any way to contact Google about it and make the case? Obviously just creating a new g-mail address and starting over is the obvious answer, but I am wondering if there is a process for recovering a g-mail identity that's demonstrably "yours".
posted by chavenet to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Can he access the account, or has the password been changed?
posted by emilyd22222 at 2:05 PM on June 17, 2010

This happened to my friend, same scam.

He filled out this and got the account back that way: https://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/request.py?ara=1&hl=en&contact_type=ara&ctx=ara

But if you have your phone tied to the account you can also recover it through SMS, apparently.
posted by lhall at 2:14 PM on June 17, 2010

My gmail account has a password recovery email address so that I can request a reset email if such a thing happens. I don't think that feature is mandatory though, so he may not have set it.
posted by octothorpe at 2:14 PM on June 17, 2010

Re: the phone thing, you can apparently do it under Google Accounts if you still have access to that.
posted by lhall at 2:15 PM on June 17, 2010

Have him go through this: http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=50270

The following might help:

This is assuming he can't just change his password:

Did he have a second email account (gmail, hotmail, aol, yahoo, or otherwise) that he used when he signed up?

Even if the hacker changed the email.. his second account would have gotten a notification of that change. In that email it should said that if he didn't authorize that change to contact google immediately (with a link or contact info).

From there, google can help him.

Otherwise, try changing or recovering his password.
posted by royalsong at 2:17 PM on June 17, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for those tips. They all sound like winners. I will let my friend know and report back!
posted by chavenet at 2:30 PM on June 17, 2010

lhall: “But if you have your phone tied to the account you can also recover it through SMS, apparently... you can apparently do it under Google Accounts if you still have access to that.”

This is true – but I wanted to suggest he get in touch with Google even if he didn't have a phone number associated with the account, as Google often works around that.

I recently had my gmail account hacked; I know how it happened (a link my brother "sent" me when his account was hacked) and I know where the people who did it were (somewhere in the Ukraine.) It was somewhat different from the situation your friend was in; that is, my account was hacked in an apparently automated way, and a script was run which sent an email to every Gmail contact in my address book (about a hundred) in the space of about thirty seconds.

Anyway, all I knew was that one day I went to log in and Google said my account was locked because they'd detected malicious logins. My heart sank, because I have an associated phone number, but that number hasn't been my number for years. But Google actually didn't care; they asked me for my new phone number, which I gave, and SMS'd me a code, which allowed me to use my old password to log in and create a new one. I think they just wanted to make sure I was on the right continent and in the right geographical area, and that I knew the old password. It was pretty neat, actually.

Anyhow, here's one more thing that I hope your friend gets to use: immediately after he's able to log in again, he should go to the bottom of the page. I didn't realize this until my brother told me about it, but every time you log in Gmail tells when and where you last logged in. Since the last activity won't have been his, it should list the IP address of the 419 scammer who's taken over your friend's email.
posted by koeselitz at 8:35 PM on June 17, 2010

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