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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 janedoe@gmail.com (or jane.doe@googlemail.com) instead of the email address I always use, jane.doe@gmail.com. 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 janedoe@gmail.com 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 janedoe@gmail.com 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?

  • 1
    I'm not sure there is any way to mitigate getting spam. I also have the same problem, and I assume that the people using my email address by mistake to sign up for things sign up for sketchy things that puts the email on sketchy scam lists. I think you just need to chalk this up to having an email address ... – schroeder Sep 28 '16 at 19:51
  • thanks @schroeder but I was really more concerned about whether this was an indication of malicious use of my email address for gain, not the resulting spam. I get plenty of that and know it's a reality of a web email address. Since this person has used my email address to create accounts multiple times I don't think it's still a mistake. – Gracie Oct 3 '16 at 15:11
  • If you look at the domain the verification links are pointing at (without opening the link itself) what do you see? This just sounds like someone's blindly phishing you. I suspect if you went to any of those verification links it would hit you with malware or ask you to provide them your password for the service in question (assuming you have one). Without more info I doubt they're actually creating any of those accounts. – Ivan Oct 3 '16 at 18:16
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I suspect that this is a random email address brute forcing. Your mistake is probably in responding to those registration emails, which is quite likely a fake site run by the scammers. By notifying the site that you've received the email, you've set a precedent to the attacker than the mailbox is alive and attended, and is ok for further spams.

You can create a filter so that if the "To" email address is janedoe@gmail.com, then move to Spam directly.

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I think you need to just Google this email address for starter

https://www.google.com/search?q=janedoe%40gmail.com&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS711US711&oq=janedoe%40gmail.com&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i58&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

You are not alone. You can try blocking all of the offending emails so they all go to spam or are blocked completely in GMail settings. That should be better than ditching that email address, although I can't say for certain your mail isn't compromised at least to some degree.

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    You seem to be unaware of the meaning of theuse of the name Jane Doe. – Chenmunka Oct 3 '16 at 17:46
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    I don't believe that OP email is compromised. I once worked for a multi-thousand employee company and got lots and lots of mails intended to another man that had an email address very similar to mine. – ThoriumBR Oct 3 '16 at 17:49

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