12 On Your Side: E-mail phishing scam nets scores of victims in CSRA

News 12 at 6 o'clock / December 4, 2013

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC (WRDW)

"The email had gone to almost 5,000 contacts." says Donna Joyner. Along the way, wiping out her entire realtor contact list on Gmail. "Real estate agents, lenders, home inspectors, attorneys"says Joyner.

She says it all started after she received a message from a colleague instructing her to view a document in her Gmail account. "I replied to the email and got a reply back from her," says Joyner.

Believing it was authentic. "I went to log in to my Google Drive like I always do and it logged in," says Joyner. But no document.

An hour later she realized why. "I got a text message that said hello Donna you shared a file with me. I think your email may have been hacked," says Joyner.

Many of her clients also followed the instructions in the email. Joyner changed her password and started contacting her folks including On Your Side.

"I thought News 12 everybody watches News 12," says Joyner. She was targeted by a what is called a phishing scam where hackers send authentic looking emails to lure computer users into providing passwords and user names. Then copying entire files.

"It appears that the biggest damage it causes is that it just deletes all of your contacts," says Joyner. Google support has step-by-step instructions to restore deleted contacts.

But other information, like banking and confidential records, if stored in the same file could also be compromised. Meanwhile Joyner says she will be more careful in the future.

"What I will never do again is click on a link in an email," says Joyner.
Experts say if you are on a secure site the uniform resource locator or URL will have an "s" after the http. If it is not there leave the page.


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