How to Reset Your Gmail Password After Being Hacked

I finally got one of those “I’m stuck in London” emails. My friend Kate’s Gmail account was hacked, and everyone on her contact list received an email from a hacker posing as Kate:

“Hi, Apologies, but I made a quick trip, to London,United Kingdom and got mugged, my bag, stolen from me with my passport and credit cards in it. The embassy is willing to help by authorizing me to fly without on a temporary identification, instead of a passport, I just have to pay for a ticket and settle Hotel bills. Unfortunately,I can’t have access to funds without my credit card, I’ve made contact with my bank but they need more time to come up with a new one. I was thinking of asking you to lend me some quick funds that Ican give back as soon as I get in. I really need to be on the next available flight back home. Get back to me so I can send you details on how to get money to me. You canreach me via email  or hotel’s desk phone, +44208359**** waiting for your response. Kate”

The hacker also created a replica of her Gmail address using Yahoo’s webmail service, and set Kate’s Gmail account to automatically forward all messages to the Yahoo address.

As soon as I received this email, I called Kate and left her a message letting her know she’d been hacked, and asked her to call me with an alternative email address.

Then I responded to the hacker:

“Kate I will help you. Where do I send money? Robert”

The hacker wrote back:

“Robert, Thanks for responding, I need about $2000, can you make a western union transfer to me? I will pay back once am home, let me know what you can do ASAP thanks.

See details needed for western union
Receiver: Kate [redacted]
City: London
United Kingdom

What you need to do, is take cash or a debit card to a western union agent location and request to make transfer to me in United Kingdom. You can get the address of a nearby WU agent from this website

You will email me the mtcn number for the transfer so I can receive the money here, I have an embassy issued identification, which I will use to get the money from WU Thanks Kate”

I wrote:

“Send me a picture. I want to see your pretty face! What did you see in your travels? Did you talk to Mum this week?”

The hacker responded:

“Did you send the money yet?”

I wrote:

“You didnt answer me.”

At this point, the hacker figured out what I was doing, and blew me off:

“Don’t bother, I no longer need your help”

It’s hard to scambait these guys because they’re much more aware of how scambaiting works. Plus, I’m not that good at it.

The hacker and I then got into an unproductive series of email exchanges calling each other nasty words.

When the real Kate called me back, I sent her this Google Help link explaining how to reset your password if you’ve been hacked. Google also offers help accessing a Gmail or Google Apps account that has been taken over by a hacker.

If you haven’t already created a secondary email address that can be used to recover an inaccessible Gmail account, do that now. (This feature isn’t currently available for Google Apps.)

Once Kate went through this process, she regained control of her account within minutes. But the criminal had deleted every single email, leaving her with nothing. He’s probably going through those messages now, searching for any useful personal information.

Kate then sent me an email, thanking me, and I noticed that the Yahoo email address was still being copied, meaning that the hacker was still seeing every email sent to Kate’s Gmail account. If you’ve been hacked, check your Gmail settings to make sure your messages aren’t being forwarded automatically.

With more than 11 million victims just last year identity theft is a serious concern.  McAfee Identity Protection offers proactive identity surveillance, lost wallet protection, and alerts when suspicious activity is detected on your financial accounts. Educate and protect yourself – please visit

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss identity theft on YouTube. (Disclosures)


Craigslist Scammers Ship Checks Via FedEx

FedEx isn’t responsible for this scam, but their brand unintentionally lends credibility to the scammers, who reference FedEx in their scammy emails, knowing that aligning with FedEx helps their scam proliferate. It’s an insidious ruse that hurts all involved.

FedEx can and should deny suspicious online transactions. Moneygram and Western Union could also make some effort to deter scammers. It’s hard to weed out the bad guys, but there are technologies that help.

What kind of scam am I talking about? A good friend recently called to ask what I know about check scams. He had received a $2,400 check from a major chemical company via FedEx. He had no idea why, but mentioned that he had placed an add on Craigslist, asking $150 for an item he wished to sell, and that a deaf woman had called him through a translating service and offered to FedEx a check.

I explained that this is advanced fee fraud, or a shipping scam, and that he will undoubtedly receive an email demanding that the difference be paid to shippers.

Maybe the scammer pretended to be deaf, using the translator service as a third party to scramble the caller’s location. Or maybe the buyer really was a deaf woman.

But why send a check for $2,400, and why from a chemical company? Probably because it was the only seemingly legitimate check the scammer had printed up at the time, and it’s a nice score if he sends back the $2,250 difference.

My buddy was flabbergasted to think that anyone would fall for such a scam, and insisted that if someone came to his house to pick up the purchased item and demanded he pay the purchaser $2,250, he’d punch them in the face.

Shortly after getting off the phone with me, he received this email:

“Hello Dean,

How are you doing today?

The check has been delivered via Fedex,Thanks for your honesty towards this transaction so far.Well, the overpayment is meant to cover the cost of shipment for the item alongside my other properties including tax and insurance plus the movers and agent fees.

Please deposit the check today so that it clears tomorrow after the check has cleared,All you have to do is go the bank and have the rest of the money withdrawn in cash and have it sent to the movers via money gram

Here’s the movers information below.

Name : Jason Shambaugh

Address : 2330 Contra Costa Blv

City : Pleasant Hill

state : CA

Post code : 94523

Do let me know your schedule for the week regarding pickup as i have some other properties to be moved alongside the item. Please do act accordingly as agreed after deducting your money for the item, make the rest fund available to the movers via money gram Money Transfer at any of their outlet around you or check on{click find us} and check for their outlets around and get back to me with the transfer details below (as it appears on the receipt) so i can contact the movers for the pick-up at your location ….Deduct the money gram money transfer charges from my fund also $50 for yourself (meant for any hassle or run around).

1}Sender’s name and address

2}Reference number {which is the 8 digits number on the Money Gram receipt}

3}Actual amount sent after the fee had been deducted

Hope i can trust you with the overpayment? Your Honesty and transparency will be appreciated”

The email also included the FedEx tracking information, with my friend’s address. Looking up the shipping address on Google maps reveals an office building, which most likely has some vacancies. The scammer probably has some connection to the building, allowing for anonymous shipments.

Craigslist could easily prevent the majority of these scams easily by using device reputation management. Many Craigslist scammers based in Ghana, Nigeria, Romania, Korea, Israel, Columbia, Argentina, the Philippines, and Malaysia spend their days targeting consumers in the developed world. But real-time device reputation checks, such as those offered by iovation, can detect computers that have been used for auction fraud and expose all of the accounts associated with the suspicious device or group of devices. This provides Craigslist and other websites with the opportunity to instantly shut down sophisticated fraud rings and thousands of fraudulent accounts.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses scambaiting on Fox News. (Disclosures)