I recently got an email from a stranger who offered to pay me $20 to cast an undelete vote on a question on StackOverflow:

Email from Mr. Hank Young

Needless to say I'm going to deny his request. My question is: how do I respond to this person? Should I inform him that StackOverflow doesn't work like that? Should I direct him to a moderator? Should I just ignore him?

  • 27
    Accept the money, move his mail to Spam and change your pay pal account :D – Walker Dec 23 '13 at 12:58
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    Scam, scam, scam, scam, scam. Don't touch with barge-pole. I'd not even have opened the e-mail. Who call's themselves "Mr" in an e-mail address? Why give so general a subject? Why not give a link to the question (if it were a genuine odd request)? 21 and "look at ways to contact me" is asking for spam requests. Just because it mentions Stack Overflow doesn't mean it is anything other than an attempt to rip you off. – Bill Woodger Dec 23 '13 at 13:07
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    You'll probably get lots of offers now you've posted your e-mail address. – PeterJ Dec 23 '13 at 13:07
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    WTF? That's the most bizarre proposition ever. Whatever question could be that important? Worst case they could always post a new, similar question. (Also, what is the question in .. question?) – Kerrek SB Dec 23 '13 at 13:08
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    Whatever you do, don't include his public information..... ah, crap – Bart Dec 23 '13 at 13:09
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    Better than the guy who emailed me with a link to a question and nothing else except "Please help." – BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 23 '13 at 13:12
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    @PeterJ his email is publicly exposed in his Gravatar profile that is directly linked from the "About Me" section. It was never private to begin with. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Dec 23 '13 at 13:13
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    @ShadowWizard, ahh didn't see that. Guess I won't get the $20 from a joke e-mail I just sent offering to redact it for a small fee. – PeterJ Dec 23 '13 at 13:17
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    Well, it looks like he's not the only one. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Dec 23 '13 at 13:17
  • @ShadowWizard Hahaha. So Mr. Hank Young has been very busy the past few weeks. – Aadit M Shah Dec 23 '13 at 13:19
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    @ShadowWizard - And the rate has gone down by $10 in the meantime. – Martin Smith Dec 23 '13 at 13:20
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    @MartinSmith most likely this is automatic bot with random parameters. Maybe the spammer who control the bot feed it with emails and try to check what emails are alive - those who reply. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Dec 23 '13 at 13:23
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    brb, quitting my day job – Pekka Dec 23 '13 at 16:36
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    Got similar mail today, offering has increased to $30. The question must be a matter of life and death to Mr Young. – Nishant Jan 3 '14 at 12:52

We've been contacted about this from several concerned users, and have of course investigated to see if the user might have an account on Stack Overflow. So far, we've come up empty.

Our recommendation is just mark the email as spam and move on. Think of this sort of individual as a Santa stumbling out of Macy's with bourbon on his breath, and plus size lingerie stuffed into his coat. You really don't want to know what that's all about, much like this email that you received.

Unfortunately, there's not much we can do about it but to say .. there's no chance the post is going to be restored, but thanks for the fish and the lulz .. should he be listening and care.

  • Let me guess: you've just got done watching Bad Santa? :P – Jamal Dec 23 '13 at 16:30
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    I have you been taking writing lessons from random♦? That example in the second paragraph is gold. – Josh Darnell Dec 23 '13 at 16:31
  • Hey, cross dressing, drunken Santa's have needs too you know! – James Jun 26 '15 at 17:21

If you regard all unsolicited e-mail that you receive as being part of a scam which someone is trying to work against you, you won't be far wrong.

If your e-mail address(es) are public anywhere, they are open to being farmed and used against you in a scam.

If there is information about you which can be linked to your e-mail address(es) then you can potentially be lulled into a false sense of security that an unsolicited e-mail is about what it actually says, because it mentions something which is relevant to you.

There is a lot of coded communication in scam e-mails. The prime one is "I want to give you some money" means "I want to take as much money as I can away from you".

And never, ever, ever, try to scam the scammer. Even replying to the e-mail will make things worse, because you will be listed as someone who has responded to a scam e-mail - so you'll get more. If you want to go further than that, just remember that their job is to rip you off, and you are just an amateur at attempting to do it to them.

  • So Mr. Young is scheming to steal -$20 from OP's account... – BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 23 '13 at 13:46
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    No, someone, somewhere, is scheming to somehow take as much as they can from OP's account. Like "I'm sorry, I'm having trouble with the making the payment, and Paypal says you have to follow this link to authorice it". If you don't think that that is how it works, I have a nice bridge I can sell you. – Bill Woodger Dec 23 '13 at 14:01

Danger, Will Robinson! :) This email is a phishing attempt.

They are trying to

  1. Send out many emails offering to pay for delete votes
  2. Get paypal or banking info
  3. ???
  4. Steal

Best to ignore it.

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