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Confusing experience with agent. Need advice.

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AuthorSamantha

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I know this agency is 100% legit, but I didn't know where else to put this, because it's an odd question (for me at least).

So back in 2014 I submitted a query letter to this agency and received a form letter of rejection. No big deal. I moved on.

January of this year I get an email from that very same agent with the subject "follow up", and inside is him telling me he wants me to view a document he's attached, and that I might be interested. Now, my first reaction is that it's spam, but it's the email listed on the agency's website. I click on it but have trouble accessing the document. Okay... I write back, and don't hear from him until this past month.

He mentions having issues attaching the document to the email and that I may need to sign in to view the document, because it's confidential. Again, I go into, "is this spam? is this a hacker? what is going on?". But again, this is a legitimate email account. In fact, he's written me from two emails, both associated with the agency brand, and continuing our conversation. I even googled everything to see if there was spam similiar to his, and came up with nothing. It was just pages about this man, his agency and the contact information. He's also recently decided to stop accepting new submissions.

My question is...has this happened to anyone else? What does it mean? I can't imagine it's an offer of representation, so what the heck is it?
 

Maggie Maxwell

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It sounds like it might be a case of mistaken identity and he meant to send the email to someone else with a name similar to yours. Did it have your name on it anywhere?
 

zmethos

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Sounds fishy to me. You say it came from a legitimate email address, but I've received similar emails that seem to come from people in my address book but are really phishing or spam (or documents with what I can only assume are viruses in them, but I don't know because I never open them--I'm very suspicious by nature though).

Did the email address you specifically and have his actual signature at the bottom? Did you click on "view original" and look at the paths? My understanding of these things is limited, but those are always flags for me.
 

VeryBigBeard

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This sounds so, so much like a phishing scam that I'd be really wary even if it is a legit agent. Is the actual message specific to your book? Does it mention your previous submission, the time that's elapsed, etc.?

Email accounts can become infected with malware that allows third-parties to basically manage any given email account. All it takes is that email account clicking the wrong kind of link. This is how Podesta got hacked in the 2016 election. Because of the way the malware works, the address can look very legit. Here's a run-down on how it works.

Don't rely on the email being from the right domain, basically.

Come to think of it, an agency would be a great target for a phishing scam because LOTS of email addresses + lots of those email addresses pre-disposed to any response + small operation less likely to have robust security.

This is why so many agents say "do not send links" in their sub guidelines. Way too dangerous.

The most suspicious thing here is the document sign-in, by the way. That's like route one keylogging/phishing. Do NOT put anything important (passwords, name, birth date, SSN) into that kind of field unless you are 110% sure of the sender.

What I'd do, because this is an odd situation, is write back and say, "Hey, something seems wrong with the email. Maybe we can set up a call?" Usually when agents want to talk offers, they call.
 

frimble3

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This "He mentions having issues attaching the document to the email and that I may need to sign in to view the document, because it's confidential" would put me right off. Having to sign-in to something you know nothing about is Not Good. And why is it 'confidential'? The long gaps between responses is odd, as well.
Is this a one-person agency, or is he part of a larger agency?
If it's a larger agency, I'd try to contact someone else there, and see if they can help.

But it might be that some other entity is phishing under his name. Or, unlikely, that he might be setting up something under-the-table, and is trying (badly) to line up clients.
 

Gillhoughly

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Some kind of hacking is going on. No agent is going to go over files to do a refresh on a rejection from four years past.

I would suggest -- if there is a central email for the agency -- to let them know that you have been getting strange mails from someone posing as one of their people and that they need to change passwords and do a virus clean. Then do the same for your own machine!
 

JJ Crafts

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This sounds mega dodgy to me. I'd look into another way to contact the agent /agency like others have said. Does he or the agency have a twitter account you could message or a contact page on their website you could use and let them know this is happening? If it is a scam then it's probably happening to other people who are less aware that it's weird behaviour.
 

AuthorSamantha

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The agency's address and contact information is in his signature.

I feel like the only thing I can do is call and straight up ask if someone is impersonating them. Like you guys are saying, I'm just "oh this is BS", but it's so bizarre how it's the same e-mail I had been in contact with years ago and that is listed everywhere. Because it's his "[email protected]". Believe me, I'm not gullible and wanting it to be true. I'm just perplexed.
 

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You know, I'm a low-tech user but even I know how to make that appear in the From line of my email. Did you get the ISP from which it originated, using full headers? Does it trace to the city where the agency is located?

I agree with the others that it's phishing. It might be decent to contact them to let them know someone is posing as their agency contacting people they rejected long ago. They need to know their email isn't secure and that the emails of those they've contacted are being used in this way.
 

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I can put anyone's name and contact information in my email signature.

I'd be wary.
 

AuthorSamantha

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I feel bad. Because this agency should really know about this. I'm trying to find twitter accounts that I could privately message but coming up with nothing (their DM's are turned off).
 
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AuthorSamantha

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I decided to email someone else from their agency. Hopefully they actually read my message and get this looked at.
 

ap123

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I just did my weekly check of my junk mail folder and found the same email as you received. Sounded like a hack when I saw this thread yesterday, I'd say it's confirmed.
 

Earthling

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I just did my weekly check of my junk mail folder and found the same email as you received. Sounded like a hack when I saw this thread yesterday, I'd say it's confirmed.

Which agent / address is it? It would be good to warn other writers so we can all keep a look-out: I can see lots of us being so excited at an agent contacting us that we open the attachment right away...
 

Polenth

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The agency's address and contact information is in his signature.

I feel like the only thing I can do is call and straight up ask if someone is impersonating them. Like you guys are saying, I'm just "oh this is BS", but it's so bizarre how it's the same e-mail I had been in contact with years ago and that is listed everywhere. Because it's his "[email protected]". Believe me, I'm not gullible and wanting it to be true. I'm just perplexed.

Chances are the email did come from the agent's email system, because that's how these things work. The infected computer sends out emails via the email software, so it has the same address and signature. If you attempted to open the file, you need to scan for viruses and malware right now.
 

AuthorSamantha

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Ahh, so pretty much what happened is it's from the agent, just that his computer is infected with a virus? I mean, that sucks, but at least he's not being impersonated.
 

zmethos

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Well, I think what Polenth means is that the agent didn't actively send the email, the virus did. So it comes from the agent's legitimate address, but the agent probably doesn't even know these emails are going out.
 

ap123

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Jeff Kleinman, Folio Lit (now going to report myself so a mod can decide if it's inappropriate to put the name/agency here)
 

CaoPaux

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It's perfectly fine. Folks need to know so they can respond appropriately should they receive similar from Folio (or anyone). Now, whether I merge this into the Folio thread or keep it separate as How to Handle Suspicious Email, I've yet to decide. :foilhat:
 

VeryBigBeard

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Really important that someone either direct Mr. Kleinman to this thread or get in touch with him and let him know his email's been phished. It's not that he's done anything wrong, but it's something that should probably get fixed ASAP. The scammer will have access to anything in that inbox or contact list, and could send emails to authors or editors as easily as to queriers.
 

AW Admin

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He has a computer infected with malware.

DO NOT view the attachment. Delete the email. And you should be running anti-virus software which would automatically have detected the malware, removed it and alerted you.

Please please please use antivirus software that runs in the background. I do; even on my Macs.
 

veinglory

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The agency's address and contact information is in his signature.

Did you check it is correct? And reply to that email by typing it in, not hitting reply?

If it is, straight up reply and say your only previous contact was a 4 year old rejection so you would like to know what this document is in reference to. Transparency for the win.
 

ap123

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It's perfectly fine. Folks need to know so they can respond appropriately should they receive similar from Folio (or anyone). Now, whether I merge this into the Folio thread or keep it separate as How to Handle Suspicious Email, I've yet to decide. :foilhat:

Thank you!
 

Polenth

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Well, I think what Polenth means is that the agent didn't actively send the email, the virus did. So it comes from the agent's legitimate address, but the agent probably doesn't even know these emails are going out.

Yep. I replied a bit in a hurry as I was going out, but earlier I noted "I click on it but have trouble accessing the document." Clicking on it means it's time to run a virus check. Even if you do have something running in the background (which may have blocked it), it's a good idea to run a scan after something like this happens.
 

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