Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Attack of the Prank Email

As if we didn't have enough to worry about with employees sending in company internal memos for publication on the Internet and completing employee satisfaction surveys that are publicly available online now we have a new threat to watch out for - the prank email.

With prank emails, the prankster pretends to be someone he or she is not and carries on a generally humorous email conversation until the prankee (there's a new word that will probably never become a buzzword) figures out it's a joke or otherwise ends the communication. Harmless fun in most cases and like candid camera type shows can be funny to watch or listen in on.

Unfortunately prank emails are now pushing the envelope and infiltrating the workplace in potentially harmful ways. Take Shizzy Joyce, the prank emailer from a website called Bob From Accounting. Shizzy, who calls his column, "Cruel, Cruel Prank Email from Deep within the Bowels of Slacker Hell," recently infiltrated Starbucks corporate offices. His prank email was directed to a new Human Resources assistant named Roger Simmons. In the email, Shizzy pretends to be Orin C. Smith, the president and CEO of Starbucks. The initial email starts out friendly enough with "Orin" welcoming Simmons to Starbucks. Over the course of a month and a half though, Shizzy as Orin Smith asks Simmons to do a variety of things including spying on the head of the HR department and firing "the fat girl" at a particular Starbuck's location. Throughout all of this, prankee Simmons has no idea that he isn't really communicating with the president and CEO of his company. You can read the full transcript here.

While it may be funny to read (and it is in a painfully funny sort of way) the potential for really damaging actions to come out of this is dangerously close. In the Starbucks prank, the prankee follows around his department head and reports back to the fake CEO that he's 90-95% sure that she's doing cocaine in the company bathroom. And what would the ramifications have been if he had fired the "fat girl" like he was instructed?

It looks like we are all going to have to be on the lookout for corporate prank email and make sure our employees don't fall victim. According to Shizzy Joyce he is looking forward to "entering the corporate world more often during the coming weeks and months." (Does anyone know if impersonating a CEO is illegal?)

Watch those emails!


Blogger sarah said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:02 AM, September 20, 2005  
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4:04 AM, October 29, 2005  

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