Posted by: Jack Henry | December 6, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Chicago Manual of Style Hammers Scammer’s Grammar

Cybercriminals are growing more sophisticated all the time. Modern spear phishing emails can appear to come from friends or coworkers. They can use your personal information (gathered from social media) to seem more authentic. And their calls to action are more likely “click this link” or “review the attached document,” not “wire money to another country.”

These scams bear little resemblance to the once-widespread pleas from temporarily embarrassed foreign dignitaries, but some of the warning signs are the same. Be especially suspicious of any email message that

· Creates a sense of urgency.

· Invokes strong emotions, like greed or fear.

· Has poor grammar and spelling.

When the editors at the Chicago Manual of Style received a suspicious email, they seized upon this last point with their customary snark. From the October Q&A:

Q. I’m writing this with tears in my eyes, my family and I were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed all cash, credit card and mobile phone were stolen off us. It would take me 5 working days to access funds in my account, our flight will be leaving in less than 8-hrs but the hotel manager won’t let us leave until we settle the bills, i promise to make the refund once we get back home.I need about $1,940. You can have the cash wired via Money Gram transfer, thank God i have my passport ID as identification to pick up the money. John Brewer, 54 Boulevard Chave, 13005 Marseille, France. Let me know if you are heading to the Money Gram outlet now.

A. Don’t worry! We sent $3,000 (for good measure) to John Bowen, Montpellier, France (eek—is that right? Hope so!). Meanwhile, let us help: you have a serious problem with run-on sentences; Chicago normally spells out numbers up to and including one hundred; there is no need for a hyphen in “eight hours”; periods need a space after; and the personal pronoun “I” should be capitalized. Good thing you wrote!

Of course, not every grammatical, well-spelled email is trustworthy. If you have a bad feeling about an email for any reason, don’t open attachments or click links (and definitely don’t wire money to France). Instead, call the sender to confirm that the message is legitimate.

Ben Ritter | Technical Editor | Symitar®
8985 Balboa Avenue | San Diego, CA 92123
619-682-3391 | or ext. 763391 |

Symitar Documentation Services

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
exclusively for the individual or entity to which it is addressed. The message,
together with any attachment, may contain confidential and/or privileged information.
Any unauthorized review, use, printing, saving, copying, disclosure or distribution
is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please
immediately advise the sender by reply email and delete all copies.

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