Communicating by E-mail Draft: An Old but Reliable Sneaking Tactic

Email draft
Posted at 9:13 AM, Mar 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-30 08:48:08-04

One of the oldest tricks in the book apparently allowed a Tennessee teacher and a 15-year-old girl to communicate without leaving a trace, according to police.

A nationwide Amber Alert has been issued for 15 year old Elizabeth Thomas from Maury County, Tennessee. Authorities believe she is with her former teacher, 50 year old Tad Cummins. The two went missing March 13th.

Police believe the two communicated with each other prior to their disappearance using an e-mail tactic called "drafting".

It works like this: Two people, or a group of people, use the same e-mail account. The account is usually a Gmail, Yahoo or other free service.

Rather than sending emails, messages are saved as drafts. When the other person checks email, they look at the 'Drafts' folder to find the message. Once the message has been read, it is deleted from the account, leaving no trace.

Anyone gaining access to the account will see no evidence of draft messages as they do not stay on the account, even in a deleted messages folder.

The tactic has been used for over a decade, when it was revealed that terrorist organizations used the trick to avoid their communications from being intercepted by the FBI.

Former CIA director David Petraeus famously used email drafts to communicate with a woman he was having an affair with, his biographer Paula Broadwell. Members of al-Qaeda were known to use email drafts as far back as 2005.