S1E12. I Got Scammed!

It’s the 3rd quarter of the University of Connecticut vs. Baylor NCAA Women’s Basketball playoff game. My Lady Huskies are struggling against the Bears with the score seesawing back and forth.

That’s when I receive an email saying my Facebook account was going to be deleted due to copyright infringements. I have 48 hours to appeal the decision.

I freak out!

Facebook advertising is how I introduce my blog to new readers. In fact, I’m not 100% focussed on the game because I’m monitoring the performance of a new ad campaign during the timeouts, and that is how I happen to see the email.

Splitting my attention between the game and my Facebook panic attack, I do what I usually do to see if I am being scammed: I check the email address of the sender. Usually it’s bogus and I can spot a phony quickly. 

It looks fine. It’s from a facebook.com address and the extension looks like a tracking code that Facebook uses.

Baylor 45

UConn 44

5:08 to go in the 3rd quarter

Grammar. Just about every phishing email I’ve ever seen has at least one grammatical error. This one does not. No spelling errors, either.

I realize I’m being distracted from the game. I know I can respond after the game is over, but this is bothering me.

Baylor 55

UConn 53

End of the 3rd quarter

So I click on the ‘Appeal’ button. It takes me to a new page where I enter my name, email address and birthday. I explain why I believe an error has been made and click ‘Submit.’

Then it asks me to log in to Facebook. Since I don’t know it offhand, I have to look up my password.

While doing so, it occurs to me that it’s strange to first submit information and then log in. I look at the page again. It’s no longer a Facebook ID. Something isn’t right.

I check my Facebook page. There is no similar warning there. My ad is still running. I can post to it, even though the warning email says my access is blocked.

BINGO…It’s a phishing scam after all!

I assess the damage and decide I haven’t revealed any information that someone could not easily get elsewhere, so I don’t bother to change my Facebook password. I block the original sender from my email account.

Thinking about it, I’m disappointed in my reaction to what just happened. I consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to spotting internet scams, yet I fell for this one. I did my standard due diligence, but I didn’t think it through before I reacted. That’s a pretty big mistake. 

It was a failure of executive functioning: the ability to organize and sequence your thoughts, to look at things from different perspectives, and to consider the pros and cons of a situation and give them appropriate weights in order to make a judgement. It involves not only searching for evidence that confirms your belief, but looking for and considering contradictory evidence. I didn’t do that.

I didn’t consider the fact that if Facebook had spotted a copyright infringement or some other violation of their policies, they would have taken down the post, not the entire page, especially on a first offense. And they would have notified me on Facebook, not via email. But in the moment, I was swept up in the fear of losing my account, and my emotions hijacked my thinking, resulting in a first-class error.

So I’ve added ‘judgement’ to my list of things to keep an eye on as I dribble down the road to nowhere.

The good news? UConn won, 69-67, and advanced to the Final Four!

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9 Comments

  1. Carol catanese says:

    I’m just going to ask: in order for executive function to fully engage, don’t you need to be fully focused on the action at hand? You clearly were not fully focused, you were multi-tasking and I believe most recent research on multi- tasking has revealed that judgement suffers. Additionally, I’m sure all that adrenaline coursing through your system, your fight-flight in high gear, compromised your executive function in the process. The only real judgement issue is in trying to determine your priorities 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good points all, Carol. Multi-tasking or splitting one’s attention is what’s know as ‘cognitive load’ in psychology research. You are correct that it does impair performance on the primary task. However, by overloading a system, it can also provide a peek into where there might be an underlying weakness.

      The way it’s used in memory testing is that you are given a group of words to memorize and then you are given various other tasks for several minutes before being asked to recall the target words. That prevents you from sitting there and repeating the words to yourself over and over again. It’s a form of cognitive load or attention-splitting.

      You are 100% correct in your final point, though: I will focus 100% of my attention on tonight’s game! 😀

      Like

  2. Thomas brenneman says:

    Have you considered how much your attempt to multi-task was a factor in your lapse in judgment? I believe that studies show that humans are not nearly as good as they think at multi tasking. I have solved the multitasking dilemma by doing very little & constantly reminding myself one thing at a time. Now if I could only remember what the one thing is. Tom

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are absolutely correct about the impact of multi-tasking. So the question relevant here is does this represent a decline in my baseline ability to multi-task? We won’t know until I have a formal evaluation done. Meanwhile, your strategy sounds pretty good to me!

      Like

  3. I got an email from USPS yesterday saying a packet has an incomplete address and would be sent back if I didn’t CLICK HERE to verify address.

    Like

    1. They get more clever every day!

      Like

  4. It said if I didn’t respond in 24 hours I would still be charge the shipping and handling. Even though it looked legit, I didn’t trust it. I went online and searched “USPS email scams”. Sure enough, they are it was!

    Like

  5. papaanton says:

    Well I hope you’re not similarly distracted tonight. And can fully enjoy the 🏀 game.!

    On Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 7:13 AM Mistakes on the Journey to Nowhere wrote:

    > waynebraffman posted: ” It’s the 3rd quarter of the University of > Connecticut vs. Baylor NCAA Women’s Basketball playoff game. My Lady > Huskies are struggling against the Bears with the score seesawing back and > forth. That’s when I receive an email saying my Facebook account” >

    Like

    1. U-C-O-N-N….UCONN! UCONN! UCONN!
      😀

      Like

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