Fabricate an Email Address
Let’s say you wanted to reconnect with an old client you haven’t spoken to in a while. You know they don’t like speaking on the phone, you’re not connected with them on LinkedIn and you can’t seem to find their business card that you exchanged with them during your last meeting. There are a number of ways to track down someone’s email address, but the easiest way I’ve found by online means is to simply fabricate their email address…
To fabricate one’s email address you will need:
- An Internet connection
- A web browser
- A search engine that supports Boolean search.
So let’s take for example that your intended target is Joe Bloggs, a partner at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited in their Sydney office. The first thing we need to do is find out the domain name they use for their MX records (i.e. which domain handles their emails). Also, we need to be careful that we’re targeting Deloitte Australia as opposed to their Head Office in the US – Sometimes MNC’s have their employee’s email address dependent on their location, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org vs. email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
One method of finding this is to visit their local (or country specific) website and click on their ‘Contact’ OR ‘Contact Us’ page. The problem with this method is often you will find (especially with larger organisations) that they will have an online form for you to fill out rather than provide you with a generic email address – this is a good way for them to reduce spam but bad for us. Remember, at this stage all we’re trying to do is find the domain name they use for their emails. Another approach which I find more effective is to use a search engine.
The trick is to keep your keywords simple and to the point, something like:
deloitte australia email
Sometimes if it gets a little tricky I add the country code (+61) or state code (02) along side ‘australia’ depending on the size and scope of the organisation.
From here we can see that they are in fact using a different domain (‘deloitte.com.au’) for their email addresses in Australia.
The wildcard operator acts essentially like the ‘joker’ card in a deck of cards. The above string finds results with any term followed by ‘@deloitte.com.au’. In this way, we are searching for actual email addresses at Deloitte Australia from which we will make a calculated guess on their format.
By clicking through the results we can see that the email convention appears to be:
[the first letter of their first name][last name]@deloitte.com.au
So in our example, Joe Bloggs’ email address would be: email@example.com.
NB: Be wary of using this technique with email addresses of PR staff. These people are expected to have their email address easily accessible and promulgated throughout the industry. Again to prevent spam, most organisations will use a different email convention for their PR department.
Have another way of finding or fabricating an email address? Share them in the comments section.
Disclaimer: Be careful how you use this. Under the Spam Act 2003, “it is illegal to send, or cause to be sent, unsolicited commercial electronic messages”. The penalties dealt by the ACMA vary from formal warnings, infringement notices and fines and even prosecution of individuals. Beyond that, individual businesses can take action by blocking all emails sent from you or your domain effectively severing all current/future business dealings you have/may have with that business.
[Image from Biscarotte]