First, he took screenshots of the funny ones and shared them with friends. He would then respond to each and let the senders know they had the “wrong person.” But in 2008, when a DJ from upstate New York sent an email out of nowhere asking “Ms. To borrow Pinky tomorrow night’ for a ‘gig’ at his ‘house’, Jason Young just couldn’t resist.
“Of course,” he wrote back. ‘Come by around 9 o’clock. I’ll get Mrs. Pinky ready.’
The DJ wasn’t amused, according to the email thread Young shared with the Star, and replied with an expletive. But two months later, after sending Young another wrong email, he finally offered an explanation. “Cub,” the DJ wrote, explaining that Ms. Pinky was in fact a software program.
“It was funny,” says Young, a Toronto attorney and father of two, recalling one of the better moments he had with his unique 21st-century problem.
Young says that since 2007, shortly after signing up for his very first — and only — Gmail account, he’s received more than 1,800 emails that were correctly sent to his address, but intended for someone else. For the past 14 years, he says he’s received about one every three days on average, and they usually come in random bursts. Instead of being for Jason, the emails are sent to Joanne. Or John. Or another Jason.
But make no mistake, he says, this is not spam. It’s all personal.
He’s accidentally invited to luncheons, work trips, college classes, conferences, a virtual baby shower in San Marcos, California for a kid who may or may not be called “Jango.”
He has received paperwork from a New Zealand ministry for a Texas doctor who apparently intended to move there. He has received receipts of rental car bookings, parcel deliveries. He has airline tickets to Australia and Costa Rica.
Last May, Young received a background check from someone who requested a firearm in New Jersey. In April, a property planning firm sent him a valuation of a perfectly square, snot-yellow brick building in Sompting, West Sussex, in the United Kingdom, confirming it’s worth about £225,000 – nearly $400,000 in Canadian currency.
In June, a KFC in Brazil sent him a “factura” for 20.89 Brazilian dollars. “Gracias por preferirnos,” the email read, meaning, roughly translated, “thanks for choosing us.”
More recently, he opened a vaccine certificate clearly intended for the parents of a young boy who had just received his COVID-19 shot. That gave him peace. As he does with most of these erroneous emails, he saved them in a folder he called “misdirected.”
Today, he only responds to the miscommunications that seem urgent. Or too funny to have a little fun with. That got him into an online Zumba class for seniors a few months ago. “I kept my camera out,” he says, “so they wouldn’t startle or anything.” And when he got a calendar invite to “sex day,” he responded with friendly, mock disappointment when the woman realized she’d made a mistake.
“She wanted to send it to her husband,” said Young, a married attorney, noting that he informed the woman that he is “a man with two children.”
That copy, Young says, turned out to be a typo, a case of “fat fingers,” so to speak, where the woman simply entered the wrong email address and ended up at Young’s.
But could that be the case for everyone?
Google thinks so.
Spokesperson Molly Morgan told the Star it all sounds like a lot of cases of “wrong email identity and no problem with Gmail”.
“If an @gmail.com user receives emails that they don’t recognize or that they don’t think are intended for them,” Morgan writes, it could also be that another person is using their email to sign up. report for services that may not properly validate the user’s emails. Or it could also be a typo by the sender hoping to reach another person with a similar name and email address. She urges those with issues that sound like Young’s to check out Google’s specific support page for such issues. But even Morgan’s interest was piqued by the sheer volume of mis-sent emails popping up in Young’s inbox, calling it “interesting” to say the least.
At this point, Young is content to live with it. It would be more of a hassle to change his email address at this point, he says, and it hasn’t been a negative experience.
Best of all, Young says, he’s befriended a massive family of 40 in Indianapolis.
Normally Young doesn’t wade into a group email thread as that usually leads to a clutter in the inbox, but on October 9, 2013, he went against his own policy when he realized he had been included in the email discussion of a family about where to have Thanksgiving that year. Young agreed and offered to host.
“He just responded,” says Laura Sanchez, one of the family members, and for a while they really thought that a cousin named Julie Young had agreed to hold the meeting at her home. Sanchez doesn’t know who made the typo, but at one point someone who actually wanted to include Julie typed in Young’s email.
But when Young finally revealed he was an intruder, Sanchez said, the family got a kick out of it. He had asked how ‘Mawmaw’ was and offered to bring canned cranberries. In 2014, the family added him to the chat, this time on purpose, Sanchez says, and Young has been recorded ever since. They even invited him to attend their meeting in person.
“He has a great sense of humor,” she says. “We would like to see him come,” Sanchez said. “We’ll get him here.”
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