Fake News

While I’m really bad at a lot of things – understanding most technology and being able to help my grandkids with math being only two of them – I’m pretty darn good at spelling and grammar. It seems like you either have it or you don’t. Our grandson Alastair, for example, is an excellent speller. One day when they were a bit younger and I was babysitting, his sister was having trouble with her spelling list. The words, I thought, were quite difficult. Alastair – in that way that only big brothers can torture their sisters – was pointing out just how EASY those words were to spell.

“Really, Mr. Smarty-Pants?” I said to him. “Spell burglar.”

“B-U-R-G-L-A-R,” he said without hesitation.

Rats. I was just certain her would get the A-R part wrong.

Anyway, life can be a bit trying when you are a good speller, because frankly, many signs in restaurants and other businesses offer a variety of misspellings. Notable examples are tomatoe instead of tomato, zucinni instead of zucchini, and avacado instead of avocado.

“Do I have to be the world’s editor?” I often ask my husband.

I recently came up with an idea that could be a win-win situation for certain criminally-minded people and me. I think I should — for a price — offer to correct spelling and grammar in those fake emails we all get from fake banks offering fake help if you will click on their fake link. As you are probably aware, clicking on those links leads to something bad. I’m not sure what because I’m pretty good at recognizing a fraudulent solicitation when I see it. Hence, my services would be invaluable.

Read, for example, this email that appeared recently in my inbox. I have replicated it exactly…..


Hi %%First Name %%,

[INSERT NAME] Has Been Selected to Participate in a *FHA* Refi Survey! Take the quiz and see if your’re eligible to save $1000 on your mortgage!

StartThe Quiz!

To opt-out of receiving emails from Low Rates Shop, please send your name and email address to Low Rates Shop 909 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Segundo, CA 90245 or click here!

Now, for a fee, I would tell them that rather than saying HI [INSERT NAME], I would recommend they actually, well, insert the name. I might lose the percentage signs while I’m at it. And perhaps most important of all, leave off an exclamation point or two.

Here’s another one I recently received from a bank called Sun Trust…..

During our usual security enhancement protocol, we observed multiple login attempt error which login in to your online banking account. We have believed that someone other than you is trying to access your account for security reasons, we have temporarily suspend your account and your access to online banking and will be restricted if you fail to update.

Please click here to continue using your account. Thank you for banking with Sun Trust.

What? I would suggest to Fake Sun Trust (for a fee) that perhaps they incorporate a couple more periods in their email so that I could at least make sense of what it is they are trying to fake.

I don’t actually want to be hired by the crooks who prey on innocent people. The examples above are so obvious that it’s hard for me to believe that anyone would fall for them. However, I get emails that are far more convincing. I get fake emails from Wells Fargo – a bank with which I actually have a business relationship – that are quite convincing except for one grammatical error. They, like most of the emails, tell me that there have been multiple attempts at logging onto my account, and then they tell me that I should click on the link and they will come to my rescue. However, the concluding sentence is the giveaway:


Neither Alastair nor his Nana would fall for a sentence that ended in “that.”

Keep your head in the game when looking at those emails you and I probably get four or five times a week. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

4 thoughts on “Fake News

  1. Yesterday I got a “fake” voice message on my cell stating that because of my unpaid taxes the IRS Headquarters were sending Cops to pick me up within 24 hours. Not law enforcement but cops! As mandated by headquarters!
    I played it for a friend to warn him that I likely wouldn’t be at work today.

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