My Grandfather was Scammed: Why User Education Reigns Supreme

Blog Post created by user.RZYHBOK9oJ Employee on Oct 26, 2017

Ryan Arsenault is the Community Manager of Mimecaster Central.


I was working from the comfort of home yesterday typing an email to my colleague from my dining room when I heard my wife's voice in the other room:


"What? Ryan is here with me. Are you talking about Sean?....No, Ryan is here in the dining room, and he's been here all day. What are you talking about?" 


By the way, Sean is my brother. My ears perked up. Who was this calling my wife, and what in heavens is going on in there? All sorts of thoughts started racing around in my always-racing mind.


In turns out that it was my grandfather calling my wife, informing her that Ryan had been in a bad car accident, his face was all banged up, and that he had caused it....putting a pregnant woman in the hospital. He was in jail, and my grandfather needed to send $2500 to bail him out. 


When my wife mentioned that no, none of this is true at all, and that Ryan hadn't left the house all day, it was my mother who was in the background of the call on speakerphone who put two and two together and proclaimed, "You got scammed!" This response, too, was somewhat in relief after literally crying all afternoon regarding the fact that I had nearly murdered someone in my car. 


The saddest part of this story for me was that he actually went down to the Walmart in my hometown and wired the "bail money," all $2500 of it, to this criminal party. 


I ended up calling my grandfather back later on, asking all sorts of questions: Why didn't you call Sheryl first? Why did all of this time elapse before you called anyone? Why did you wire money to someone you didn't know!? I was sitting at home all day literally sipping my Starbucks at the dining room table, doing work, while all this was happening!!!!


The point of this story is not to make my grandfather feel bad. In fact, I felt absolutely horrific for a large chunk of yesterday knowing that my 81-year-old grandfather not only was upset for a period of time, but had lost out on $2500 of money he simply did not have (that he thankfully got back - they hadn't picked it up yet!). These questions came from a place of not wanting this to happen to him ever again.


I point this story out, and the questions I asked my grandfather, to highlight the fact that anyone in your organization can be an easy target. 


Technology is obviously a big part of the equation, and being the unbiased () guy I am, I think you've made a fine choice with Mimecast. But wrap into your organization's security strategy a well-rounded education program that's consistent and regular. This is all too real, as this actually happened to me and my family yesterday afternoon. Educate your users...the first and last line of defense against your organization, and stress the importance of red flags. If it seems suspicious, it probably is.


And give your grandparents or parents a hug or a phone call to tell them to be extra vigilant, tonight, too.