Phishing Alert: (Subject varies) Hi, I am busy, I need you to purchase gift cards!

Some U-M community members reported receiving this email. It is fraudulent or malicious. Do not respond, click any link in it, or provide personal information or money. See Phishing & Scams for more tips. If you need help, contact the ITS Service Center.

Date Sent: 
Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Subject lines vary:

Examples include:

  • Hi, I am busy
  • I need you to purchase gift cards!
  • Are you there?

Sender is likely forged:

This scam will often appear to come from someone the intended victim knows, such as a colleague, supervisor, or leader in their organization. The recipient may be addressedby name. Names and titles in many types of directories are publically viewable, and many organizations and units list important leaders on public web pages. The goal of this scam is to fool the recipient into purchasing gift cards for the scammer. Some recipients have reported long exchanges including many messages that attempt to convince them or justify the request.

Initial message text:

A first message may say something simple like:

  • "Hi Pat! Are you available?" [Using a recipient's name to fool them.]
  • "Are you there?"
  • "Are you on campus?"
  • "Are you available?"

Text in subsequent messages (if you reply):

Further exchanges may include things like excuses for why the message sender cannot call or take an action for themselves. Some excuses may be realistic, others very outlandish:

  • I'm in a meeting right now and that's why i'm contacting you through here. I should have call you, but phone is not allowed to be use during the meeting.I don't know when the meeting will be rounding up, And i want you to help me out on something very important right away.
  • I need your help to get some stuff, will refund you the moment I get back. Can you do that for me please? 
  • I am asking you because i know you will be of help, Kindly help me get a $100 gift card in two places. That in total, will be $200. l'll reimburse you as soon as I get to the office. I need physical cards, so you will help me get it from the store. When you get them, just scratch, take a picture of the cards, attach to the email and  send it to me here. Thank you.