I know there have been at least two other questions related to this issue (I will link them if able) but I believe this is a potential scam, based on a recent escalation of events.
Earlier in the year I started getting registration emails for homework help sites, and when I looked at the header details I could see they were being sent to [email protected] (or [email protected]) instead of the email address I always use, [email protected]. I know that gmail accounts ignore dots/periods (explained here) and therefore the accounts are the same so many potential email formats still come to me, and thought maybe some kid was just getting an email address wrong (omitting a number/letter/special character). It was annoying but didn't concern me too much. Each time I notified the site of the mistake, declining to click any verification links where applicable, and changed my password just to be safe.
Then I got an AppleID verification email with the same [email protected] format. Again I ignored. Then, I guess because this person registering the ID never got their verification email, the kept requesting new verification emails over and over, for several hours. I finally called Apple to request they deactivate this account (because it would never get verified anyway) and their call-center genius bar did not know about the gmail format and dot omissions and would not believe me. They confirmed the account creation/request but the only resolution they offered was to call Google (ha) and have them forward the email to the correct recipient. Apple just did not understand the issue.
Within the last few weeks, activity has further accelerated. Instagram accounts and now dating website accounts are being created with this [email protected] ID, and I am getting all the emails. The first sites were mostly Canadian companies (I am based in the U.S.), but this latest dating site is finding romantic matches for "me" in Kenya. I know that these emails can't be going anywhere other than my mailbox, so what is the the possible benefit of this scam? I can no longer believe this to be a mistake.
Other than abandoning the email account, are there any steps I can take to mitigate this issue? Has anyone else observed this kind of high activity/exploitation?