Friday, November 11, 2022

Scam Letter? Or Just Badly Done?


You get weird stuff in the mail sometimes.  Click to enlarge.

A letter arrives today for Mr. See, addressed to a Post Office Box that we haven't used in nearly a decade.  But our postal person knows the island and delivers it to our house.  Right off the bat, I am suspicious as it has a return address in Minnesota, but is postmarked in Baltimore, Maryland.  Something isn't right with this.

It is hand-addressed, from what I can tell - but computers are getting better at mimicking handwriting, so who knows?

We open the letter - no letterhead, just plain paper and a plea to text to a certain number for more information about health care.  Who are these people?  What do they want?  Mark tossed it in the trash, but I fished it out, curious as to what their angle was.

"Janice" says she is a "Working America" volunteer, which was capitalized so I searched it.  There is a Working America organization which is an offshoot of the AFL-CIO and an outreach to non-unionized workers.   If that was the case, why not say so?  Why not use official letterhead?  Why not provide a URL to the organization, instead of a text number?  Weird. Even if "legit" it is poorly done!

Or maybe it isn't legit.  Just someone wanting money, using the name of "Working America" as a cover? Perhaps.

So, what about the return address?  It appears to be one of those shared office space kind of deals, and it houses a number of organizations.  It does not appear to be residential.  A little more searching and "Working America" has offices in many States, including a main office in Washington DC and a satellite office in Minnesota at..... 2233 University Ave.

So, while it may be legit, it is, in my mind, poorly done.  It looked "sus" as the kids like to say these days.  I guess they thought by using a hand-address and filling out the salutation and signature in blue pen, we would think it was all folksy and not something from the largest union in America.

While I might actually support what they are doing, the way they are doing it is, well, deceptive.  Clearly they had volunteers fill out these envelopes from a mailing list (I wonder where they got Mark's name and a decade-old address!) and then they are sent to Washington DC for mailing.  Or it is all done in DC and for some reason they use the Minnesota office address.

But what about the phone number?  Where is the 833 area code?  It is one of the expanded 1-800 numbers so we have no idea where it is.  Googling it reveals this disturbing article about 833 fraud - although the article is so vague as to be laughable.  Who sends their bank account information to strangers on the Internet?

Curious, I texted the number and a bot immediately replied, asking for my first name and e-mail address.  It may be "legit" but it is sus as all fuck, as the kids like to say.  It could just be an e-mail harvesting scam.  Some folks have discovered that with gmail you can append your e-mail address with text indicating who you are e-mailing, so later on, if you get unwanted SPAM, you can figure out who sent it.

I gave up at that point and blocked the number.  Hopefully I don't get a plethora of text spam as a result.  Curiosity killed the cat!

I am sure that if I gave them my e-mail they would send me a pitch for money - legit or not.  So why bother investigating further?  The largest union in America doesn't need my money.  And I already paid my Teamster dues.

Whatever the deal is, it sucks.  If "Working America" or the AFL-CIO are doing this, they need to re-think their strategy.  Sketchy marketing mailings isn't the way to go.

And we wonder why the union movement is in the toilet these days!