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Phishing for positivity

Forced to uproot from campus, routines and friends, many Miamians have been struggling with staying at home and wanting to feel more connected. To encourage each other, women on Miami’s campus have been participating in an uplifting email exchange. 

“To help each other rise… We’ve started an email collective for an uplifting exchange through Women Leaders,” the email states.

Below are the instructions: Send a poem, quote or thought to the two Miami emails tagged below, even if you don’t know them. If you can’t, email Rebecca Udell so the chain isn’t broken. 

I reached out to Udell to find out if she was the one who started the chain and how she’s seen it grow during quarantine. When I emailed her, Gmail notified me that the email listed was receiving too many messages that it couldn’t deliver any more.

My searches on Instagram, Facebook and even the Miami directory came up empty. I was beginning to wonder if Rebecca Udell was even real. 

As it turns out, she isn’t. 

Rebecca Udell is a phishing scam

But there wasn’t a link to submit any personal information or to download malware so, for now, there are no negative consequences from the scam, just girls sending Pinterest quotes.

Camila Jones, a junior marketing major at Miami, sent several of her friends the email. 

“I got it from my Little,” Jones said. “The person tagged happened to be another girl in my sorority, Kayla Lohman. I sent her three positive inspirational quotes from my Pinterest arsenal.”  

Jones is an RA in President’s Hall and had to move out of the dorm with her residents. When she returned home, she found out her marketing internship in New York City was canceled. 

She participated in the email chain with the hope of making others feel happier if they were feeling anything like she was. 

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“The quotes I sent are ones that have really stuck with me,” Jones said. 

Jones isn’t the only one looking at the bright side. Junior Brooke Bennington, a sociology, media and culture and strategic communication triple major, sees positives despite the scam. 

“I don’t see any harm in it,” she said. “I mean, someone sent me a picture of their cat.”

Bennington was beginning media and culture research this semester when it got postponed. She is looking forward to continuing this summer, but the university’s plans are tentative.

“They put a pin in it for now,” she said. 

When Bennington received the email from a friend, she felt nostalgic from “middle school email chains,” so she decided to participate. She just wanted to put a smile on someone’s face. 

“It’s a weird time! Let’s spread joy!” Bennington said. 

Sophomore Carissa Ruffin agreed, “Everyone needs happiness right now.” 

Ruffin, who spent her freshman year in the Disney College Program, was enjoying her first year on campus when it came to an abrupt close. Her early childhood field experience was cut short, and she felt like so many things were out of her control.

Amidst the emails from teachers and faculty, she was glad to see something positive in her inbox. 

“It’s a spot of happiness in your inbox,” Ruffin said. “And I’m a sucker for quotes.” 

During the pandemic, everyone has lost something. Even in their own disappointment, women still want to help others see the good. 

“There’s always something good to be taken out of every situation,” Ruffin said. 

In a world where crazy is the new normal and negativity feels like our first response, maybe the bad can be turned good. And maybe, phishing scams can be uplifting.