When E-mail Jokes Go Really Really Wrong... aka "How to Piss Off People and Possibly Get Yourself Killed"
Being back at work, and dealing with people's e-mail accounts, brought back a funny story to my mind. And when I say "funny", I mean "only funny because I wasn't directly involved."
In early 1998, I was back in school doing IT stuff, and had already been hired by a firm, along with several other of my classmates. Once we began work, we would be going to Boston for five weeks for training.
Two of these classmates thought they would play a little practical joke on another one of their buddies in the class. They made up an e-mail, and spoofed it so that it looked like it was coming from another student, an attractive young woman, who was also travelling to Boston soon.
The e-mail message said something like, "Hey, fella, maybe you and I can get together when we're in Boston" or something equally suggestive like that (or maybe even a little moreso). They even faked her home e-mail address, so that it would really look like it was coming from her.
They sent off the message to their friend. But he didn't receive it. "Huh?", they said. But they just figured that they did something wrong, and let it go at that.
Which is true. But they didn't suspect *how* wrong it actually was.
Anybody see where this is going yet? Yes? No? Stay with me.
Now, bear in mind that I knew all of these people, and was friendly with all of them. And I was aware of the failed e-mail joke. Which put me in the position of being the first to realize exactly what was happening.
I get home from school for the day, and get a call from the young woman. She's a little upset. And by that, I mean she's very upset in a "I don't know what the hell is going on, but I know that it's bad and I'm going to be really pissed off when I figure it out" kind of way.
She asks me if I know anything about some e-mail she got about going to Boston, and some other person... she basically tries to explain the message she received. AT HOME. Where her husband lives with her. Remember, she's half hysterical / half confused /all pissed off.
GONGGGGGGG goes my brain, as I realize what has happened.
Remember when they sent the e-mail, but it didn't get to its intended recipient? Well, that happened because they misspelled his e-mail address.
So what happens when you send an e-mail to an address that doesn't exist? It gets returned to the sender.
But REMEMBER how they faked the sender's address so that it would show the young woman's e-mail address...
...so the "Hey good looking, we going to get together in Boston" message got RETURNED TO THE YOUNG WOMAN'S REAL HOME E-MAIL ADDRESS, where she lives her real life with her real man.
The message which she discovered when she got home.
Now, luckily, it was HER who received the message first, rather than her boyfriend.
Because, as pissed off as she was, and as large a strip as she tore off the guys who did that...
If her husband got that message first...
I think the whole situation would have been MUCH worse.