Nidhi Razdan was all set to travel to Harvard University to start a new job, and a new life, when she received a stunning email.
A famous Indian news anchor at the apex of her career, Razdan believed she would soon start teaching at Harvard, a dream ticket out of an almost unbearably toxic media atmosphere in India.
She had told the world that she was leaving the news business for America and she had freely shared her most important personal information with her new employer — passport details, medical records, bank account numbers, everything.
But when she swiped open her phone in the middle of a January night, she read the following message, from an associate dean at Harvard:
“There is no record of, nor any knowledge of, your name or your appointment.”
The email closed: “I wish you the best for your future.”
Razdan felt dizzy and nauseated. She had thrown away a high-flying career in journalism and fallen into an intricate online hoax.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Razdan said.
The hoax that ensnared Razdan exploited Harvard’s prestige, the confusion caused by the pandemic, and her own digital naïveté. At the time she went public, what had happened to her seemed like a shocking but isolated incident. But it wasn’t. Razdan was one of several prominent female journalists and media personalities in India who were targeted, even after one of the women alerted Harvard and the public about the unusual cyberoperation.
The incidents raised questions about why Harvard — despite its reputation for fiercely protecting its brand — did not act to stop the scam, even after being explicitly warned about it. They also revealed how easy it is for wrongdoers to hide their identities on the internet, a risk that is likely to get worse as the technology used in digital fakery continues to improve. To read more click here