“All that twitters is not gold”
In the new millennium, a homophone of fishing has gained infamy. Phishing, the new age cyber crime uses electronic lures to bait unwitting citizens into revealing personal and financial information with a malicious intent. I am no spring chicken when it comes to phishing. I have an active presence on social media and am quite au fait with all its dark alleys and shadowy characters. So when I came face to face with a phishing attack, I immediately saw in it an opportunity to engage with the hacker, generate some lessons for all of us and then quietly expose the ‘phisherman’ to the agencies.
Mr. Azim Hashim Premji, also known as the IT Czar of India, is a well-known business tycoon and Chairman of Wipro, one of the largest, globally-ranked IT services corporations from India. With a net worth of over $16.7 billion as of Apr 17, Azim Premji is the second richest Indian. He is a visionary and also one of the biggest philanthropists from India, having pledged more than half of his wealth to philanthropic and educational initiatives. He is the first Indian to sign up for The Giving Pledge, a campaign led by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates to encourage the wealthiest people to make a commitment to give most of their wealth to philanthropic causes. By any standards, Mr. Azim Premji is a tall icon of emerging India.
We are a family with great respect for this individual and it’s a happy coincidence that our son attends Azim Premji University at Bangalore, part of his initiatives to change the face of education in India through the Azim Premji Foundation.
I came across a profile of Azim Hashim Premji with his charismatic photo on LinkedIn . Unlike most celebrities who are oversubscribed or have intricate firewalls to prevent unwanted connection requests, here was Mr. Premji with an open profile, welcoming connection requests. Wow – I thought – he must have recently joined LinkedIn like Sachin Tendulkar! This Mr. Premji had a very bare and incomplete profile (with some typos) which aroused scepticism, but on an instinct, my hand moved over the ‘Connect’ button and I received the message “your invitation to Azim Hashim Premji is on its way’. Here is that profile on LinkedIn.
Within a short time, the request was accepted. Sign#2 that something was amiss. Surely, Mr. Premji wouldn’t be sitting & twiddling his thumb over the LinkedIn app when he had a $16-billion empire to run. My nose smelt the airwaves…hmm…something isn’t right. This was my chance and I wasn’t letting it go. I shot out a beseeching message indicating my respect and interest in the fake Mr Premji and sought advice on how we may contribute to his noble initiatives.
Soon, messages started flying thick and fast – solid proof this was a scamster masquerading as the venerable Mr. Premji. (Note: Blue boxes mine, white boxes Mr. Scamster). Read on.
Ah! My son indeed, you fraud. Any person of Mr. Premji’s stature will never pour out condescension so soon. Asking for a WhatsApp number is also a dead giveaway. Sorry, bad start scamster!
Charity home foundation – wtf is that?? And you want to do it in other countries? Your mom never told you charity begins at home? And $1 million for a budget? You think money grows on trees?! Here, chew on this a bit.
On second thoughts, i really meant it when i said “God bless Wipro & all its shareholders”! He wants me to sleep tight while he sets me up for his bogus philanthropy! Let me step on the gas a bit!
Now, don’t laugh when i say ‘family gold’. Like all Indians, i too have a weakness for the yellow metal. It’s a different matter all my ‘family gold’ won’t suffice to buy even a pair of handcuffs for this crook. But he doesn’t know that and is busy wasting his time on me while other potential victims are safe for the moment. Nice thought, eh? And well, we do have some fine friends in Coorg but if ever we ‘host’ such characters there, it will be over a slow fire 🙂
His next reply was on expected lines!
Wait a minute. I found you snooping on my LinkedIn profile just a minute ago. There, i have just disconnected from you. No way you are going to enter my network!
“Better feed hungry children than wear gold or drive expensive cars” How’s that for a pick-up line while phishing?! He fell for it hook, line & sinker. There, he pops every scamster’s favourite question – “How much are you willing to give?”
Ah! Drool over the goodies on offer, scamster! You can keep my pet monkey also. And don’t forget to fill up my luxury car’s empty tanks while you are at it!
But wait a minute. You are not getting it so easy, not from me. Quick, take a selfie and give me proof of life! C’mon hurry! The gravy train won’t wait!
I think the last one threw the crook off balance. I am sure in all his years of phishing nobody ever asked him for a ‘selfie’ as proof of character! Or an exclusive ceremony for handing over his ill-gotten booty! But then, this is no ordinary victim he has crossed swords with!
Meanwhile, the trail seems to have gone a little cold. Maybe our friend is trying to photoshop a selfie in the Chairman’s office or working on a new strategy, both of which will soon come a cropper as i pass on his details to the nearest cyber crime office.
Oh no, he is back. And this time he wants to seek a ‘selfie waiver’
No way you getting that waiver, buster. Its selfie or my money walks. Right into the arms of Bill & Melinda Gates!
Now, now…i never told you it’s going to be easy money, Mr. Fake. Stop crying and get clicking! (He has the temerity to protest!)
It’s time to tell off this scamster and hand him over to the authorities. All those in his contacts list can now block & report him. Here’s my parting shot before i booted him out.
I had fun doing this and I hope there is a lesson for all of us in here. But a word of caution: Do not engage with such hackers. Immediately report or unfriend them and surely don’t open any mails or web links that they may send. Also, never reveal your telephone number, bank account or personal details. It’s also a good idea not to accept friend requests or connection requests from strangers.
Do pass on this story to your friends or associates in Wipro or the Azim Premji Foundation. I am sure the IT Czar will have a word of advice for this misguided phisherman!
©KP Sanjeev Kumar, 2017. All rights reserved.
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0003-phishing#how to deal with phishing scams