What is this weird (scam?) email?
January 15, 2022 8:38 AM   Subscribe

I just got a truly baffling email, and I would love for you all to tell me what this is! It appears to be an order (that I didn't place) with no company name, but that actually contains my full name and address in the text. It's for a not insubstantial amount of money, and it has me freaked out a bit.

The email address is from what looks like a person's name (Brian B. Mayes) which resolves to a gmail with a different name (andersongunner193). The subject is "Hello [My Full Name], Your order will ship from here today."

There is a billing address listed with my full name and correct address.

There is an order number.

There is an item listed in a fairly normal looking order list thing that has precisely one google result from the verbiage, at the price listed in this weird email. (It's a weird statue of a dog, if that matters, priced at over $700.)

There is a sentence that says, "Need more information? Reach assistance center: 800 658 7604." Googling that number gets not much except a weird claims center or something in CA.

The end says, "Regards, Team Pay Pal" (like that).

No indication anywhere of what company this supposedly is.

There are no unusual transactions on my PayPal or bank.

This has triggered my anxiety like whoa. Please help?? What is this???
posted by lysimache to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
Best answer: It's phishing - they want you to call and give them account numbers or the like - just mark as spam, delete, ignore.
posted by leslies at 8:39 AM on January 15, 2022 [16 favorites]

Best answer: Spam.
posted by slater at 8:40 AM on January 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry, adding:

How does it have my actual address, I guess, is the thing that has super freaked me out. (And no, I certainly did not call the number, who would do that?).

There are no links in the email.
posted by lysimache at 8:42 AM on January 15, 2022

Best answer: Unless you've taken drastic steps to protect your privacy, getting your physical address and email is child's play in the modern era.
posted by praemunire at 8:45 AM on January 15, 2022 [16 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, several years ago it was a big deal when scammers stole the FULL NAMES from people on Facebook. That was the beginning of one name resolving to a different name on the email, and it’s very common now.
posted by Melismata at 9:03 AM on January 15, 2022

Best answer: I've had something similar happen (except it was for a business I actually have purchased big-ticket items from) and it was fine. Like many scams, nothing happens if you just ignore it - the goal is to freak you out enough that you call them and give them more info.
posted by coffeecat at 9:17 AM on January 15, 2022

Best answer: They want you to be scared by the amount of money and think you might actually have to pay for this thing because it has your actual address. They want you to respond quickly to try to stop it from shipping today. And yeah, they do want you to call that number. My guess is that if you did call they would ask you for account information for a "refund".

They don't want you to notice that it's sent from some weird Gmail address, and they certainly don't want you to check PayPal or your bank.

There might not be links to make it more likely that it'll be delivered. I know the email protection tools I work with are much better at identifying and blocking emails with malicious links than ones that just have text.
posted by Akhu at 9:25 AM on January 15, 2022 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I get garbage like this every day. Delete and ignore.
posted by SPrintF at 9:27 AM on January 15, 2022 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all so much! I really appreciate the quick and reassuring responses! AskMe is the best. <3
posted by lysimache at 10:22 AM on January 15, 2022 [2 favorites]

The other possibility is someone bought you the thing.
posted by Lady Li at 10:23 AM on January 15, 2022

Best answer: I can’t seem to find it, but I saw on YouTube an explanation of a similar scam. You get freaked out, call the 800 number, and the scammer says they will refund your $700. They send an email that purports to refund you $7,000. They beg you to fix the error: all you have to do is send them the difference of $6,300. You get the satisfaction of helping them out and you’re $6,300 poorer.
posted by Monochrome at 11:38 AM on January 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Agree with scam avoidance advice above.

But then I got a text purporting to be from Apple right after the newest iPhone was released asking me to respond by calling a certain number due to potential fraud. I almost ignored it, but then did call Apple at that number. It turned out someone had fraudulently ordered 2 iphone 13s to be sent to people in Los Angeles and San Francisco and had managed to charge my Apple account! Apple wanted to know if I was actually ordering phones for someone on the West Coast. No, I had not - I'm on the East coast, and the discrepancy had flagged the purchase. He put me on hold while he canceled the orders, which were on the verge of being shipped out. The cost of the fraudulent order was something like $2600.

I routinely ignore alarming bank emails and texts from banks I have no relationship with (looking at you Wells Fargo), and from PayPal telling me that I must immediately respond (I don't have a PayPal account). I assume even private information is bought and sold routinely, and scammers have figured out how to alarm people into responding and giving the scammers money. My elderly relatives are frightened when they get simple solicitation letters with their name and address (we buy houses!) but we are so far beyond simple homeowner data!

I'm glad I answered Apple, though.
posted by citygirl at 12:25 PM on January 15, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: As a general rule, if you want to verify that something is legit or a scam and you recognize the business that claims to be the sender, do NOT use the contact information given to you in the email/text/whatever. Instead, look up the contact info for support on the official website and contact them that way. (TBH, even if it looks legit you shouldn't use the links/contact info in an unsolicited email these days; scammers are getting better at making stuff look more legit all the time.)

In this case, since there doesn't appear to be any money moved out of your accounts, I'd ignore this. Even if this thing does end up getting delivered to you, it's not like that would give them access to anything they don't already have.
posted by Aleyn at 1:29 PM on January 15, 2022 [13 favorites]

Re how they got your address: If you're a US homeowner, property-tax rolls are typically public information. My students are routinely shocked to find they can just look me up on the city/county assessor's website.
posted by humbug at 2:06 PM on January 15, 2022

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