Politics
Politics

White House Officials Scammed By Email Prankster

| by Sarah Zimmerman

An "email prankster" in the UK fooled a number of White House officials, including former Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, into believing that he was another White House staffer.

The prankster contacted CNN and shared all of his email correspondences with top figures like Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert and Anthony Scaramucci. 

To Bossert, the unnamed prankster posed as Senior Adviser to the President Jared Kushner. The fake Kushner invited Bossert to a "soiree" and in return received the security adviser's personal email unprompted.

"Tom, we are arranging a bit of a soiree towards the end of August," wrote the fake Kushner. "It would be great if you could make it, I promise food of at least [comparable] quality to that which we ate in Iraq. Should be a great evening."

Bossert responded: "Thanks, Jared. With a promise like that, I can't refuse. Also, if you ever need it, my personal email is [redacted]."

In another incident, the prankster pretended to be former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and contacted Scaramucci the day after Priebus' resignation was announced:

I had promised myself I would leave my hands mud free but after reading your tweet today which stated how; 'soon we will learn who in the media who has class, and who hasn't', has pushed me to this. That tweet was breathtakingly hypocritical, even for you. At no stage have you acted in a way that's even remotely classy, yet you believe that's the standard by which everyone should behave towards you? General Kelly will do a fine job. I'll even admit he will do a better job than me. But the way in which that transition has come about has been diabolical. And hurtful. I don't expect a reply.

The two already have a strained relationship, and it is believed that Priebus resigned from his post in response to Scaramucci's hiring as communications director.

Scaramucci responded: "You know what you did. We all do. Even today. But rest assured we were prepared. A Man would apologize."

The prankster replied: "I can't believe you are questioning my ethics! The so called 'Mooch', who can't even manage his first week in the White House without leaving upset in his wake. I have nothing to apologize for."

"Read Shakespeare," Scaramucci responded. "Particularly Othello. You are right there. My family is fine by the way and will thrive. I know what you did. No more replies from me."

Other officials, including Ambassador to Russia-designate Jon Huntsman Jr. and the president's son, Eric Trump, were fooled by the prankster's emails, as well.

The prankster admitted that the stunt was just for fun and had no criminal intention. Calling himself a "lazy anarchist" over Twitter, he often tweets out his pranks on unsuspecting leaders in government or in the private sector.

"I try and keep it on the humorous side of things," the prankster said. "I'm not trying to get the keys to the vault or anything like that." 

White House officials have acknowledged the incident and say that they will not be treating the matter lightly. 

"We take all cyber related issues very seriously and are looking into these incidents further," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Cyber security expert Prof. Alan Woodward from the University of Surrey told BBC that scammers in the UK often set up fake email accounts posing as other people.

"All they do is they spoof the email by changing one character," says Woodward.

The recipient will likely not examine the email address closely and will not notice the missing letters, thus taking the email as legitimate. 

Do these email pranks reflect poorly on the White House?
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