PHISHING/SCAM Alert: Gift Card Email Scam Targeting UIC Faculty and Staff

The ACCC Information Security and Privacy Office has been receiving many reports of directed email scams targeting UIC faculty and staff in an attempt to get the recipient to purchase gift cards and to email the gift card numbers to the attacker.

If you receive such a message, DO NOT RESPOND.

In these attacks, UIC faculty and staff are sent email pretending to be from university leaders, typically deans, directors, or department heads. The emails arrive from random email addresses that are sometimes crafted to trick the recipient at first glance but are not really from a UIC.EDU address. For example, the email may arrive from “” or “” but not from “”. The name of the person sending the email is changed to the name of the university leader (e.g. “Bob Green”). Sometimes the sender is hoping that the recipient will not notice that the email is not from UIC but in other cases it has purported to be from the leader’s personal email account.

The end goal of the emails appears to be to convince unsuspecting staff to purchase gift cards on the “leader’s behalf” and email the codes to them with the promise of later reimbursement.

The email attacks that we have been seeing sometimes begin with an email such as “Are you available?” and if someone responds, the attacker posing as the leader explains that they are caught in a meeting, can’t take calls and need the recipient to buy gift cards for them and will reimburse them later.

Other attacks have had the “please buy gift cards for me” message included in the first wave.

Due to the use of random senders and the commonplace text in the emails of these attacks, ACCC is unable to prevent them without blocking legitimate email.

Again, if you receive such a message, do not respond. If you are in doubt, contact the person who is supposedly sending the email by campus phone before taking any action as directed.

If you received email of this form and purchased gift cards, please contact the UIC Police for assistance. For information on how to contact the UIC Police, please visit

ACCC Security

For more information, please contact:
Edward Zawacki

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