“To Whom It May Concern: If you have received an email in the last few days or if you receive an email in the near future stating to wire funds on behalf of Earle Mack—I urgently ask you to not send any money,” read an email blast from his assistant. “Please be advised that Ambassador Earle Mack’s email account has been compromised.”
It’s an old scam, getting tiresome, where a hacker seizes someone’s contact list and urgently importunes every name on it for a wire transfer, often around $2,000, as an emergency loan. The haplessly hacked friend is said to be in a foreign country, in financial distress, and without access to cash. Oh, and he or she promises to pay it back upon returning home.
This one drew titters up and down Park Avenue and all along Worth Avenue, as the person “pleading for help” is one of the most plugged-in plutocrats in New York and Palm Beach. Mack and his well-liked wife of 25 years, Carol Dickey Mack, are, to start with, best friends of David and Julia Koch and also longtime intimates of George and Libby Pataki. Mack is a scion of a first-rank commercial real estate trust and served as Ambassador to Finland for George W. Bush in 2004-05. And he’s emailing his contacts for an emergency loan? Not likely.
Our daily existence has become a swampland of scams, and you’d think folks would be too jaded by now to fall for this fakery. But they do. In recent months, phony solicitations were dispatched from criminals, probably located in Nigeria, who claimed to be the stage and screen star Monique van Vooren, the charity publicist Christine Biddle, the interior decorator Geoffrey Bradfield, and the society hostess Margo Langenberg, among many others. Some of their well-meaning friends and family, without checking, wired funds to the addresses stipulated, money which vanished forever into the abyss of the Internet.
Earle Mack is an interesting figure on the Manhattan radar. In the 80s, he was chairman of the New York State Racing Commission. In the 90s, he replaced the irreplaceable Kitty Carlisle Hart as chairman of the New York State Council of the Arts. He has been a film producer and co-chaired the board of the New York City Ballet. Today, he is a big booster of Pataki’s candidacy for the Republican nomination for president.
One story illustrates Mack’s generous nature. He received a B.S. degree from Drexel University in Philadelphia. In 2008, when Drexel had just started a law school, he donated $15 million and the school was renamed the Earle Mack School of Law. Five years went by and a Philadelphia trial lawyer came along with 50 million bucks in his hot mitts. According to the Drexel board, Mack “graciously stepped aside as naming benefactor of Drexel’s law school” and, lo and behold, the sign on the building was changed to Thomas R. Kline School of Law.
As this story was going to press–er, going to web—a new email arrived from Mr. Mack’s assistant advising that the cyberthief has stepped up his or her sinister skullduggery: “Today we have been told that the ‘hacker’ is sending out fake dinner invitations—please ignore. Also, this ‘hacker’ has sent out emails advising that Mr. Mack was trying to reach you and illustrates a ‘click here’ drop box. Please do not open this drop box and delete this email right off your computer. If you have clicked the link in this email, please run an antivirus scan or speak to a computer specialist.”
As we know, Earle Mack has some purty powerful people on his contact list. If any of them have infected their devices, this chicanery could snowball. Why isn’t Donald Trump doing something about the scoundrels in Nigeria? And who’s going to feed those people who accepted the fake dinner invitations?
ORB SAYS: Never trust anything on the Internet.