A day after claiming she was scammed, Nidhi Razdan has now penned a blog detailing how she fell victim to a phishing attack. Ever since her revelation, there have been suspicions regarding her version of events but her blog, although it addresses them, only serves to raise further questions. And in the end, only ends up adding further fuel to the fire.
Nidhi Razdan says that she was invited in November 2019 to speak at a Harvard Kennedy School event that was scheduled for early 2020. And an ‘apparent organizer’ of the event contacted her separately to inform her of a vacancy in a teaching position.
One wonders here what precisely is an ‘apparent organizer’. Someone is either an organizer or they are not. It is not clear what precisely happened here. No names are taken and neither are any identities revealed. Neither here nor in the entire blog.
She says, “A few weeks later I was “interviewed” online for 90 minutes. It all seemed legitimate, the questions were thorough and professional. I did a basic google search and found a journalism degree programme being offered by the Harvard Extension School.”
“Contrary to what many are tweeting, Harvard has a school called the Extension School offering a Journalism Degree Programme. The actual programme is called the Master of Liberal Arts, Journalism degree. The Extension School lists 500 faculty of whom 17 are categorised as journalism faculty. A number of these people are working journalists. I believed I fit this profile,” added Nidhi Razdan.
In January 2020, she received an email from an “alleged Harvard Human Resources person” offering her the job. She says, “The offer letter and the agreement appeared to be on a genuine letterhead with the University insignia, and contained the “signatures” of all senior Harvard University officials who actually do hold those positions even today. The emails from this individual were all marked to what appeared to be an official group university ID.”
Intriguingly, there was communication between them and her employers at NDTV as well. And curiously enough, not even NDTV believed there was anything amiss. Nidhi Razdan announced her decision in June after a great deal of communication between both parties when she was convinced of the authenticity of the claim.
The Visa Conundrum
Then comes the bit that people on social media have been grappling with for hours now. The Visa question. Nidhi Razdan says, “I had been told a work visa had been issued in the US for me which would be sent to me only when travel was required. I would have also needed a visa from Delhi but it never reached that stage since no travel was on the cards immediately.”
This, again, does not make sense. How was the Visa issued without an interview? She does not say that she ever appeared for one. Moreover, the Visa is issued by the local consulate and how could it be issued without her passport? She has travelled a lot and must be aware of the details. How, then, could she have bought into the claim that her Visa had been arranged for in the United States? Did she send them her passport? Did they have access to her passport?
Ultimately, frustrated with the whole affair, she contacted the office of the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in January 2021. Prior to that, she had written to the HR department but did not hear back. Let us pause for a minute here. The whole affair begins in November 2019 and she did not make any attempt to contact the authorities at Harvard until December 2020. This is some absurd level of gullibility that we see here.
Nidhi Razdan says that it was only earlier this week that she learnt that it was all a scam when she was told that there there was “no record of my appointment and that the people claiming to be their HR staff do not exist!”
She states finally, “I have filed a police complaint and handed over all the documents and communication. This was a gross criminal act. I am very shaken by this and keep kicking myself for being such an idiot. With the benefit of hindsight, could I have done more due diligence? Absolutely, yes. But these scams succeed because they look so real. What these scamsters put together was good enough for me to throw away a 21-year career in TV.”
The Nidhi Razdan fiasco: Questions that still persist
Nidhi Razdan may believe that she has quietened the rising suspicions regarding the story but all she has done is further the highlight the inconsistencies of her version of events. Firstly, who was the “apparent organizer” who informed her of a vacancy? Who was she interviewed by for 90 minutes? If it was a video interview, which it seems to be, then she should certainly be able to recognize the individuals.
Furthermore, she says that money was not involved in the whole situation. Thus arises the question, why would anyone go to such an extent to target someone if they were not interested in money? “My lawyer read all the emails and realised that this was a massive phishing exercise, in all likelihood aimed at stealing my money and taking my personal data to misuse it,” she says.
But Nidhi Razdan does not elaborate on how they could have gained access to her personal data. If it was indeed aimed at stealing her money, then they would have required access to very personal details. And yet, we can safely assume that if it was really money they were after, then they would have gotten it by now. But she doesn’t appear to have lost any money here.
Therefore, it again begs the question, who did it and why? And if it was to gain access to her personal details, it again begs the question, to what end?
The most intriguing revelation here is the fact that it was not just Nidhi Razdan who was fooled by the alleged phishing attack. Her employers at NDTV were fooled as well. Therefore, they should be embarrassed of themselves as well. Also, it is intriguing to note that despite her ordeal, Nidhi Razdan has not taken any names and has provided any details regarding the people who she claimed conned her. Why is that?
Also, we have not yet seen evidence to suggest that this was a phishing attack. All that we have is a claim by her lawyer, whose foremost priority would naturally be to protect his or her client. Thus, while the blog does answer some questions, it only raises many more.