James O’Brien is an idiot

Of course, I don’t include myself in the list of people called James O’Brien who are idiots, I’m specifically talking about the dumb arses called James O’Brien who don’t know what their email address is and sign up for various things with my gmail account.

Or those dumb arses who send me emails thinking I’m the James O’Brien they’re looking for. I don’t mean spammers or phishers. I mean people who send me mortgage documents, job offers and so on, in the mistaken belief I’m the James O’Brien they’ve been corresponding with.

I know I have a reasonably common name. It’s a name I’ve shared with my grandfather, and his grandfather, and probably countless other grandfathers. Also in my family, James is a reasonably common middle name. Well, that was until they all discovered “modern names”. Thankfully, our family hasn’t descended into naming children after American states like Montana and Dakota.

Beyond that, it’s a name shared by two radio people, including one in the UK and one in the US as well as a journalist in the US. And there are many others.

Because I’m an early adopter, I got THE gmail address. And as gmail tells you, you can vary it with dots and dashes and all sorts of things.

Gmail doesn’t recognize dots as characters within usernames, you can add or remove the dots from a Gmail address without changing the actual destination address; they’ll all go to your inbox, and only yours.

So if anyone else thinks they have a gmail address that’s james.obrien or j.a.m.e.s.o.b.r.i.e.n or any variation, they’re wrong. It’s my bloody email address. So please stop using it.

Unfortunately it hasn’t stopped people with my name getting confused and signing me up for all kinds of things. Recently, for example I’ve started receiving emails from the GOP – the Republican Party – due to some dumb arse American who thinks he has my gmail address.

For a while, there was a bloke in Ireland called James O’Brien who kept applying for jobs with my gmail address. I saw the applications! Occasionally he got one, and occasionally I was offered the job. I’m hoping for someone who’s offered an EU passport or an American Green Card. I might accept those!! :)

Recently, I was offered a mortgage for someone called James O’Brien and his partner (poofs in San Francisco, apparently) which included a full financial status confirmation. This wasn’t phishing – I’m fully across that and all of the associated scams and how they work – it was just carelessness or stupidity by the person who applied, or the person who responded. When it’s clear the information is for someone else, I always write back and I always delete the information. And I always get a “thanks” email from the institution involved.

As I’ve googled tonight some of the many people in the world called James O’Brien, I’ve concluded we’re not a good looking group of people :) There’s quite a few working in the media. There’s quite a few in academia. And there’s quite a few criminals :)

James O'Brien
Journalists, academics and criminals