The White House was recently tricked by a ‘prankster’ pretending to be a number of officials and recognisable names, including Jared Kushner.
The self-proclaimed ’email prankster’ managed to trick a number of White House staff members, including a senior cyber security advisor, and ex-media chief Anthony Scaramucci.
Concerns about cyber security were reportedly already running high after claims that hackers interfered in the recent US election, meaning that this incident is even more concerning. The White House has said that it is taking this issue very seriously and will be investigating the incident.
One of the most significant results of the hoax was that Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert gave out his personal email address after believing that Mr Jared Kushner had invited him to a party.
The fake Kushner said in his email, which was shared with CNN by the prankster, “Tom, we are arranging a bit of a soirée towards the end of August, it would be great if you could make it, I promise food of at least comparible [sic]quality to that which we ate in Iraq. Should be a great evening”. In response Mr Bossert said: “Thanks, Jared. With a promise like that, I can’t refuse. Also, if you ever need it, my personal email is [redacted]”. Bossert has not commented publicly on the reports.
The email prankster said that he was surprised by the response of Bossert given his expertise.
Another notable incident were the emails involving Mr Scaramucci. A day after Mr Reince Priebus was removed as White House chief of staff, the hacker emailed Scaramucci pretending to be Priebus. He accused Mr Scaramucci of being “breathtakingly hypocritical” and of acting in a way “not even remotely classy”.
— EMAIL PRANKSTER (@SINON_REBORN) July 31, 2017
After being tricked by the emails Scaramucci said “You know what you did. We all do. Even today. But rest assured we were prepared. A Man would apologize”.
The fake Priebus wrote back “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 apologise for”. In response to this, Scaramucci responded in his final email with “Read Shakespeare. Particularly Othello”, as seen in the below exchange.
— EMAIL PRANKSTER (@SINON_REBORN) August 1, 2017
Scaramucci was actually fooled a second time by the same prankster pretending to be a different person, Ambassador to Russia-designate Jon Huntsman Jr. The fake Huntsman asked “Who’s head should roll first? Maybe I can help things along somewhat”, to which Scaramucci replied “both of them”, in an apparent reference to Priebus and White House Senior Advisor Steve Bannon. After a few more nice messages from fake Huntsman, Scaramucci replied “Are you in Moscow now? If not please visit”.
YEP, JON. ALL GOOD. I'M THRIVING. The wrist rest I ordered for my desk in the White House, Can we get it any faster than 14 days delivery? pic.twitter.com/molH7owCSu
— EMAIL PRANKSTER (@SINON_REBORN) August 2, 2017
Scaramucci was sacked as the media chief on Monday having been in the post for a mere ten days.
The email prankster, who goes by the twitter username @SINON_REBORN, said that he targeted Scaramucci because of previous comments Scaramucci had made where he reportedly called Priebus a “f***ing paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoic”. In one of his tweets the prankster said “I targeted [Scaramucci] as I’ve suffered from mental health problems all my life, and he seems to think paranoid schizophrenia is a put down”.
Adam Malone, a former cyber specialist and special agent for the FBI, said to the CNN that “this shows how susceptible government officials are to spear-phishing in general”.
The only person to come out of the email exchanges relatively unscathed was Eric Trump, after catching on rather quickly to the fact that it was a prankster pretending to be his older brother Donald Trump. After some emails from the prankster regarding a long-range hunting rifle he responded “I have sent this to law enforcement who will handle from here”. The email prankster said he never heard from anyone in law enforcement regarding his email to Eric Trump.