A relatively harmless fake email disguised as an email from Facebook Support provided a primer on signs to look for in identifying emails of the annoying variety, like this one, as well as more serious ones that lead to malware, phishing, or other cyber-security issues.
The email, pictured below, looks like an authentic communication from Facebook Support at first glance, but upon further examination, red flags fly.
- Sender’s email address: Communications from Facebook would come from a Facebook or fb.com email address, not from email@example.com.
- Recipient’s email address: This email came to an email address that is not associated with a Facebook account, bringing to mind emails that attempt to phish users’ banking information, which result in spam emails fashioned to appear as if they come from actual banks, sent to users who have no accounts at those banks.
- Details at the bottom: These spammers could have done a better job than, “Attention: Department,” not to mention the fact that Facebook’s headquarters are in Menlo Park, Calif., and not nearby Palo Alto.
- URLs: Email recipients who are suspicious of communications of this sort should always examine the URLs that are linked to. Hovering the mouse cursor over either the “Go to Facebook” or “See All Notifications” buttons did not yield Facebook URLs, but did yield this URL, which has nothing to do with the social network: http://iphotoplay.com/pomerania.html.
As it turned out, this email was neither malware nor a phishing attempt, but an annoying way to drive recipients to a site for Canadian Family Pharmacy offering the traditional drugs of spam emails (and we will not vouch for their authenticity, for obvious reasons): Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, and Propecia.
The moral of the story: Look for signs like those listed above if there is the slightest reason to be suspicious of emails that appear to be from Facebook but seem a little off.
Detective dog image courtesy of Shutterstock.