Why are so many gmail addresses being created and linked to mine?
August 17, 2017 4:46 PM   Subscribe

As one of the earlier gmail adoptees, I have an address that people frequently mistake for their own (basically it's dingom@gmail.com, only with my actual name). I'm used to getting other people's mis-sent emails and erroneous newsletter sign-ups, but lately I've been getting an abnormal number of new gmail addresses being linked to my account, all following the same format.

Over the last two months I have gotten at least 8 notifications from the Gmail Team (supposedly, I guess) indicating that a new email address has been created, and that if I didn't create that address I should click on the link provided to disconnect that account from my own. At first I thought nothing of it - again, people mistake my email as their own all the time, and I'd gotten occasional emails like this in the past. The difference here, however, is not only in the volume of occurrences but also in the fact that these new addresses all look the same - it's just my username with three additional initials (e.g., dingomswr@gmail.com, dingomtiw@gmail.com, dingomprw@gmail.com). This makes me suspicious.

I can't quite figure out what search term to use to google this, so here I am - is this happening to anybody else? Does anybody know what the heck is going on? I must admit that I did click the 'unlink' link the first few times it happened, but then my brain kicked in and I've stopped doing that. I don't see a way of seeing what addresses have connected to mine, though, so I still don't know if these emails are legitimately coming from Gmail or not (and even if they are, why the heck are so many of the exact same addresses getting connected to my account??).

If anybody could shed any light on this, I would be grateful!
posted by DingoMutt to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
They think they have your email addy and keep signing up? Mines a "jokey" one so I get this a lot. Just disavow and move on. Probably 4 dozen times over the years, 10x for things like dating and smut chat.
posted by tilde at 5:05 PM on August 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't know why either, but my gmail address is in the same format as yours, and I've noticed the exact same thing. I used to get infrequent "Your Gmail address has been created" emails associated with various real-looking emails, but since May of last year I've gotten 17 of them in the same format as you - my gmail name plus three random letters. I've just been ignoring them, but I'll be watching this thread!
posted by theodolite at 5:08 PM on August 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can't quite figure out what search term to use to google this

Google a long, exact phrase from the email (surrounded by quotes). That *should* lead you to specific discussion about the email you're receiving.
posted by acidic at 5:18 PM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

tilde, it's definitely not just random people signing up for stuff. (I get those all the time too.) Here's what mine looks like - the blacked out part is my actual gmail name.

They are apparently legit Gmail notices: the "unlink your account" link and all the others go to real Google, not some kind of phishy gooq1ε.com domain.
posted by theodolite at 5:20 PM on August 17, 2017

This has been happening to me over the past few months as well. Like you, it used to happen occasionally but I've definitely noticed an increase. It also is my name with a couple of random letters as well. I just assumed it was legitimate and have been unlinking the email each time I got one, but now I'm wondering if that's the best approach?
posted by liquorice at 5:25 PM on August 17, 2017

I don't know what's going on, but this explains how to see what email accounts are linked to yours.
posted by grapesaresour at 5:41 PM on August 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

I wonder if someone who has confused your email as their own is creating a bunch of accounts for something like Pokémon Go or one of the poke tracker apps? Or creating bots for some other reason?
posted by peep at 6:09 PM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

My guess is it's related to spam. I don't know anything about Gmail's security measures, but it seems vaguely plausible that linking to an existing account makes it easier to get an account created without being shut down (or maybe the spammers think it helps when it actually doesn't -- I see stuff like that all the time). And spamming from a gmail account is a great way to get stuff past spam filters (not a great way to send a ton of email, but quality over quantity....).
posted by primethyme at 6:27 PM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't know what's going on, but this explains how to see what email accounts are linked to yours.

Thanks, grapesaresour - I've tried that and unfortunately it seems to only show me accounts that I have linked to from my gmail account, not accounts that have linked to my gmail account through their own. There's a link to look at 'alternate emails' from your link, too, but again it seems to only show accounts linked from my account, not to my account. Of course I could be mistaken, but as theolodite says upthread, the notifications that these accounts were created and are linked to my account do seem to be legitimate. Very vexing!
posted by DingoMutt at 8:17 PM on August 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

My first thought was the same as peep's - the poke tracker apps are crowdsourcing Gmail accounts these days and are generally super desperate to have tons of them.

Fwiw, my Gmail is the same first-name-and-initial format as yours and I haven't seen this, so it's not some universal thing.
posted by potrzebie at 8:40 PM on August 17, 2017

I have [myfirstname]@gmail.com and I have also been seeing an uptick in this type of thing. I am wondering if it is people seeing which accounts are less monitored or more easily hacked.
posted by sadmadglad at 4:39 AM on August 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a feeling most of this is the email equivalent of drunk dialing. In one case that I actually followed up on, somebody had an address like mine except for a string of numerals tacked on the end. They had submitted their address somewhere but forgot to add the numerals.

I have no doubt that in some cases there's attempted chicanery involved, but I attribute the bulk of it to sheer sloppiness.
posted by Flexagon at 8:11 AM on August 18, 2017

Were I to be setting up an email account, or a cell phone account, or even some other types of account, I would need to provide an address and/or telephone number. If I didnt want to provide that information, some places let you put down an email account instead. Say I didnt want to provide a real email account that I used, I could make a random account using a commom name and a string of numbers. When asked to provide an email account to link my fake email account to, I would just try the "coomon name@gmail.com." 10 times out of ten it would work and now I have an account not traceable back to me.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:07 PM on August 18, 2017

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