Nearly 250 vendors for this year's Hangar Holiday received a hoax email asking for $2,000 to help the Vendor Coordinator get home from London.
The email said that Sue Markle and her family were stuck in The United Kingdom after being robbed at gunpoint. It said they still had their passports and tickets home, but needed a loan to help pay for bills and a cab.
The email appeared to be sent from the correct address: email@example.com. However, when vendors clicked "Reply", the email address changed slightly to a different return location: hangarholiiday.com. Notice the slight difference of an extra "i" in the new address.
President of the Better Business Bureau of North Central Texas Monica Horton said this is a trick scam artists use to confuse consumers, called "spoofing". "They are getting sophisticated," said Horton. "They know that the more believable it is, the more victims they can create."
The fake email even included Markle's correct signature, complete with her correct email, web site and address. However, the phone number had two numbers switched.
Horton said this is a common way to trick people as well, but phone calls from Newschannel 6 to the incorrect number were not answered all day.
Horton said email scams are common for bigger businesses and personal emails, but this is the first time she has seen a local event targeted.
"Our advice is always to consumers and everyone who receives one of these: check out the story, check out the scenario, call and see if your friend is stranded in another country, see if your grandson is in jail in Canada by calling the proper relative and other people," said Horton.
Hangar Holiday organizers have since changed their email to firstname.lastname@example.org, put up a warning on their web site and sent out an apology email to anyone who received the hoax email.