Hook, Line, and Almost-Sinker:
How I Nearly Fell Into An Internet Scammer’s Trap
By: Brianna MacLean, Cub Brand Ambassador

I received the first email early in the morning.

It was a Monday; I was helping get my little sister ready for school, visions of that perfect first cup of coffee whimsically dancing around my head like a kaleidoscope of butterflies while I planned out the rest of my day.

That’s when my phone started to chime, and urgent emails from “Kat Mooney” began to populate my inbox at a whiplash-inducing speed.

I always thought I was an exception; After all, I was a young Millennial who often felt like I had grown up on and alongside the Internet.

I knew the familiar beats by heart:

  • Never send money to a prince trying to reclaim his kingdom.
  • Don’t give the Canadian tax officer/police hybrid your name or social insurance number.
  • Be sure to double-check that “suspicious package” that arrived at the border under your name.


It was all quite simple; if you want to protect your wallet from the faceless scammers who scour the digital landscape for potential victims, you follow these rules down to the letter.

But what happens when these scammers take on the persona of your boss? What do you do when they invade your unsuspecting inbox, masquerading as someone you trust implicitly while bombarding you with messages full of frantic instructions and emergency deadlines before the sun has even had the chance to take its place in the sky?

If you’re me, you act first with plans to ask questions later, unintentionally becoming the victim I always thought I was too clever to be.

When it comes to scams, just about anyone can be a target. Of course, we all recognize the stereotype; the 55+ years crowd, seemingly gullible and ripe for the digital deception due to their limited electronic and digital experience. It might come as a surprise for many, as it definitely did for me, to learn just how inaccurate this perception is; When it comes to victims who experienced moderate to several financial losses in a scam, seniors 55 years and older only make up 10%, and it is Millennials between the ages of 25 and 34 who make up the highest percentage of victims (30%).

AKA: My exact demographic.

At the end of the day, I was one of the lucky ones.

I was lucky to have people in my life who were more caffeinated and better equipped to see reason, who encouraged me to look closer at the situation before acting on the knee-jerk panic that was clouding my mind. Without them, I might have realized far too late that this was an unknown email address using the good name of my boss to exploit my trust and my desire to please as a practicum student.

Despite emerging from the situation with my savings intact, I still felt ashamed that I had nearly fallen for this ruse in the first place. I am not ignorant of the Internet; in fact, I am the person my family comes to as their personal IT support, fully confident in the digital and general electronic skills that I have accumulated over my 27 years of life. Heck, I have a university degree, for Pete’s sake! How could I be so dumb?

(This is one of the emails I received from someone posing as Kat Mooney.)

These feelings of shame made me realize just how important it was to share my story.

I am not the first person to nearly be taken in by an Internet scam, nor will I be the last, so why should we be made to feel guilty about it? All this does is encourage us to hide our experiences, effectively isolating us in our shame and creating a wider pool of potential victims to fish in. If adding my voice to the conversation surrounding internet scams can help bring us together rather than keep us divided, why wouldn’t I do it? If I can help protect even one person somewhere down the line, it will be worth all the potential embarrassment over admitting just how close I came to being successfully swindled.