Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Lovely Invitation - from Strangers

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Lovely Invitation - from Strangers

Article excerpt

When I hear about a new scam, it is sometimes from a regretful victim. Other times it is someone who did not fall for the trick, and so, did not wire money to a new business partner in Nigeria or a lottery official in England or a helpful lawyer ready to post bail for a vacationing nephew in jail in the Caribbean.

By then it is usually flagrantly obvious what the scammer was after and how the trick was supposed to work.

But this time I didn't get it.

Neither did Will Geisdorf, a local man who admitted he wasn't sure what was going on.

Geisdorf got a wedding invitation in the mail about a week ago, promising "an evening of love and laughter with family and friends" in March, at a nice house on Davis Island in Tampa.

It was printed on nice paper, looked totally like the real thing, and it asked for nothing except that he RSVP.

But Geisdorf was suspicious, because he had never heard of either member of the to-be-wedded couple. He says he asked friends on Facebook if they had a clue, and was surprised at the answer: No one knew any more than he did about the alleged marrying couple, yet about seven of them had gotten the same fancy invitation.

Some were not actually friends of his, just acquaintances. But they all figured out a connection: They had all recently been to a nice wedding on Siesta Key.

"That was the only common denominator," Geisdorf said. "Maybe the website that couple used for their wedding was hacked?" he was thinking. Possibly the aim was somehow targeting affluent wedding attendees. But for what?

"The whole thing has me confused, but I thought it might make an interesting topic for one of your columns," Geisdorf said.

He told me he figured the requested RSVP might be the trick. The invitation asked him to respond by going to a website, a common thing these days. Maybe when he clicked the will or won't attend box, it would lead him to a wedding registry designed to inspire a befuddled invitee to send a pricey gift or a check to a total stranger. …

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