Received a post card from an unknown person - should I be worried?
June 18, 2016 10:02 AM   Subscribe

I received a slightly creepy postcard from someone whose name doesn't ring a bell at all. Sending me a card means they know my address. Should I be worried?

My mother just sent me a scan of a postcard that arrived for me at my parents' house. While I cannot decipher the complete message due to awful handwriting, what I can read kind of creeps me out. It goes something like this (translated from German:
"Skinny [Name], you fairy, hehehe, let's be friends", something about the village I live in and then their name (first name abbreviated) and address. The thing is, I am not even really skinny, especially lately I've been feeling chubby (thyroid problems), and I wonder if this person is trying to mock me?
The address exists, but the last name only yields results for old ladies. I've tried googling the part of the card that I could decipher, without any results, and none of my Facebook friends seems to have received a similar card, so it doesn't seem to be a serial scam.

Should I be worried about this? They obviously know my name and address, although right now, only my parents and brother live there. I have to say I feel slightly creeped out...
posted by LoonyLovegood to Grab Bag (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hmm - I wouldn't worry about it. This is someone who knows your parent's home address, one assumes the address you grew up at? This could be someone you went to high school with who, seized with inspiration after a late night of partying/reflection/whatever decided to reach out to people they went to high school with. Or someone writing postcards to everyone they remember from when they lived in [quaint village], seized with feelings of nostalgia. Or someone who you gave your parents address to a long time ago. Or someone who got the wrong name/address (very possible). Or a kid being a kid.

Scribbly writing because this is one of 10 postcards they're writing to old buddies. Not really anonymous as they put their name and address, right?

I'd ignore it, would not respond unless you're feeling more curious than creeped out.
posted by arnicae at 10:08 AM on June 18, 2016

I wouldn't be so worried, but it might be worth doing a little research to find out more.

Can you search the name on Facebook? Sometimes that doesn't work because the name is too common, but if you find someone by that name that you have a mutual friend with, or you see a picture and realize "Oh, wow, Heinrich Schmidt took his wife's name when they got married?!" or whatever, or that he clearly went to your school, or something, it might be a bit more reassuring. Or at least give you an avenue to reach out and ask, "Why so creepy?"
posted by Sara C. at 10:14 AM on June 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

My last name is VERY unusual and it would be an extreme coincidence for this to be sent by mistake. Their last name seems to be Mandaxlio if I deciphered it correctly, and I know no one with that name. My village or school were not that big and it's not been that long, so I think I'd remember. You'd also think if someone wanted to get back in contact these days, they'd either use Facebook or at least write a card I can read... I guess it could be a child, but why?

I uploaded a picture here so you can see.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 10:32 AM on June 18, 2016

I'm a German speaker who read the card along with your description. It's really odd for sure: there's a name (Christian, I assume?) that does not come up with search results yet an address that does. The tone is definitely flirty or friendly in a way that you only use with friends. It feels both authentic (certain word choices that make me think of a native speaker) and unreliable (grammatical mistakes native speakers wouldn't normally make, etc.) I'd think it's an encrypted card from an old friend sent as a joke (unlikely), perhaps a stranger new to the town looking to make friends after googling names and addresses (weird but you never know) or something else. For now I'd keep showing it friends and seeing if they can provide any insight, such as if they know someone at that address, but also not worry too much, if possible.

I don't know if this would help at all but here's an anecdote: I know someone with an older brother who has an intellectual disability. He is very friendly and outgoing but often completely misses social clues and needs a lot of supervision and feedback when first meeting people. In person it's fine as you can tell he means well but on the phone or in notes without context it can feel creepy. For example, once he called a new teacher whom he had met briefly at his brother's Back to School Night to say hello because he thought she was really nice. He started out the call by saying, "Are you the new teacher with the pretty brown hair?" He meant it well, to him it was merely verifying he was speaking to the right person. However, it was inappropriate and, out of context, very creepy. Fortunately, he had called from home and the name and number showed up on caller ID; after a quick call home, his mom and social worker were able to remind him about boundaries, phone guidelines, and the like and things were fine. Your situation may well be completely different but that's one example of how it is, indeed, creepy and inappropriate but is not something to be fearful of. I'm sorry, and good luck!
posted by smorgasbord at 10:51 AM on June 18, 2016 [14 favorites]

Mandaxlio sounds like a made up last name, or a name someone might take on or use that wasn't their birth name. A quick google search produces no results, or at least none that aren't swallowed up by results for "Mandaglio", "Mandali", etc. This could definitely be someone you know using a nom de plume, so to speak.
posted by Sara C. at 10:52 AM on June 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

The garbled sentence that is close to 'Dich erwartet einiges' which could mean 'Something awaits you' (or maybe 'I'm expecting you somewhat') would bother me a bit, personally.

On the other hand, 'schlank' means 'slim' or 'svelte' rather than 'skinny', and is almost universally positive in meaning.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:02 AM on June 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Worry? No. But keep the postcard in case anything else weird happens.

(I would bet $5 that it's an ad, either mass-produced or tossed off by someone in an MLM -- postcard spam.)
posted by Etrigan at 11:04 AM on June 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I probably should have mentioned that my hometown is on the opposite side of Germany from this person's address.
And yeah, "something awaits you" really bothered me...
posted by LoonyLovegood at 11:25 AM on June 18, 2016

My German is pathetic, but stamped on it is apparently advertising for this site:

Partial translation is something like "running from poverty, disability (something)" and the site looks to me like some kind of "sponsor a child" program.

Perhaps they intended to write the child they are sponsoring and something went wrong somewhere?
posted by Michele in California at 11:37 AM on June 18, 2016

Michele, I think someone just used a postcard they bought from that programme? That's pretty common, my family uses lots of postcards we received from SOS Children's Villages or whatever we bought/donated to that year.
Someone just sent me a private message saying they had identified the sender as a young woman recently graduated from high school, but I still don't get it...
posted by LoonyLovegood at 11:40 AM on June 18, 2016

I read "mandaxlio" as "mandat lio" which is a latin phrase that I cannot really translate, but would be something like "mandate fighting" ? Seems like someone who doesn't know latin would slap together.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:43 AM on June 18, 2016

Ah, an identification. They might just be having a psychotic break of some kind, and have found your name and address on the internet.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:44 AM on June 18, 2016

It reads (to me) like an email spam that someone wrote on a postcard, perhaps as conceptual art?
posted by jabah at 12:14 PM on June 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Someone just sent me a private message saying they had identified the sender as a young woman recently graduated from high school, but I still don't get it...

This sounds like something that's happened to me a couple times on Facebook - I've gotten a couple of friend requests from people I have never met in my life, and have no connection to me whatsoever. I investigated the request once and figured out that it was a person in their late teens or early 20s who was just trying to "make friends" and wasn't being especially selective.

I wouldn't worry about it. It sounds like it was from a very bored and/or lonely person who wants to make friends and is just being especially inelegant about it. If they reach out a second time, THEN I'd be worried, but this really seems like nothing more than a girl thinking "I know, maybe I'll send out a bunch of post cards to random addresses I look up and see who answers me and wants to be penpals."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:17 PM on June 18, 2016

According to the stamp, your postcard went through "Briefzentrum 64" which is located in Darmstadt. Darmstadt is only 16km from Dieburg, so it is not unlikely that the postcard was actually posted in Dieburg.
posted by Ghislain Bellec at 12:17 PM on June 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

You might ask the mods to remove or edit the replies with the last name and town, as this post now comes up as a search result. (I think the card is creepy but not cause for undue concern-- however, I would keep my eyes open for anything unusual and lock down my internet presence for a bit.)
posted by kapers at 12:36 PM on June 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

[Deleted a few comments per request, to remove identity of sender.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:42 PM on June 18, 2016

i'm glad someone has identified a source (and that it sounds fairly harmless), but i am still wondering how they knew about you. do you have family in dieburg? i guess this is obvious, but have you checked on google that your name and address are not visible somewhere? if they are associated with a picture that this girl somehow latched onto it might make more sense.
posted by andrewcooke at 12:57 PM on June 18, 2016

This question reminded me of this old AskMe. Does anything on your postcard sound similar to the ones on there?
posted by kevinbelt at 1:08 PM on June 18, 2016

I never even knew of a town called Diebach, and since my mother sent the scan to me, surely she would have recognized a relative...
I'll ask my mother to steam off the stamp (she's a collector anyway) as mentioned in the other thread. I am pretty sure I don't share a name with a famous person, unless this girl has a crush on my younger brother, who sometimes appears in local (so not where she lives) media due to his various achievements. But apart from the shared name, nothing online marks us as siblings... My YouTube, fanfiction etc. is under a pen name as well.
Googling myself doesn't seem to show my address (though I can ask my boyfriend to try it as well), so I'm really stomped here... Guess I can only wait and see what happens. At least I don't live at that address anymore, but my family still does...
posted by LoonyLovegood at 1:30 PM on June 18, 2016

For what it's worth, I have an unusual name in my country and acquaintances of the other 2 elgilitos have occasionally sent personal letters and postcards to me. I guess that they didn't know their friend's address, somehow managed to find mine and assumed that there could be only one person with that name. I even received an invitation to an art show near my home, showed up, and found out that I was not the person that had been invited.
posted by elgilito at 2:04 PM on June 18, 2016 [8 favorites]

I think "Mandaxllo" actually reads "Manda x&o".
posted by tel3path at 4:34 PM on June 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

I have friends with unusual names and almost all of them have gotten mail, phone calls, FB requests, etc., for some other person with that name. Absent other evidence of creepiness, I'd put money on that being the case here.
posted by SMPA at 5:43 PM on June 18, 2016

X lio is a DJ or musician of some sort, who seems to be from Albania.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:32 PM on June 18, 2016

[One deleted. Let's not be publishing people's personal names and addresses in comments here, please. If you'd like, you can mefi mail the OP with the info. Thanks.]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:42 AM on June 19, 2016

You know I don't think you have to accept mail. Personally, I'd return the card to sender as addressee not known at this address. If it's a clumsy attempt at making new friends that would put them off a bit.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:12 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Any updates or further letters, op?
posted by Dressed to Kill at 12:30 PM on August 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

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