The Horror!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Horror!

By the time I read last evening's E-mails, it was too late to call to confirm or dismiss, so I went with my gut-instinct that her E-count had been cracked and that she was in reality, safe and curled up in her little comfy sack several streets away rather than on a rack in the depths of a Turkish debtors prison.

The E-mail read:

I'm writing this with tears in my eyes, I came down here to Istanbul for a short vacation. Unfortunately, we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed, all cash and credit card were stolen off us but luckily for us We still have our passports with us.

We've been to the Embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in few hours from now but we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills. Well I really need your financially assistance.

Please, let me know if you can help us out?

Am freaked out at the moment.

Thank you.

Well, while I certainly would want to aid a damsel and neighbor in distress, this one didn't "sound right" in the slightest even though her E-mail and name were in the proper form.

So I went to sleep with discomforting echos of "Midnight Express" flitting about my dim­ming consciousness.

(For some reason, I had never envisioned a woman in a Turkish prison.)

First thing this morning, I called her, and after a cheery exchange of salutations, I knew the answer before she got straight to the point:

"No, I am not in Istanbul!"

So she was aware that her E-mail had been cracked and that others were concerned....

"O, yes... you're not the first to call. One said she knew it was a scam 'cause I can't get to Riverhead much less Turkey!"


I was wondering how I was going to pull off a Theodore Roosevelt and command a gunboat to appear in the Sea of Marmara to lob shells into Istanbul until the Turks repatriated her!


1. UsuallyQuietOnQuiogue said...

Thank you, Dean, so appreciated the call. If there is good to come out of this its knowing there are so many good people willing to reach out thinking a friend is halfway around the world in peril. Thankfully, as you noted, most didn't recognize the syntax as mine -- although if I were facing time in a Turkish debtors prison, think I would be pretty "freaked out!" Lessons learned -- change your passwords often and be grateful for good friends!

There's another lesson as well... poeple who use AOL and Hotmail E-dresses are at added risk of crackers.

2. Hampton West said...

I get these also. Somehow whoever does these knows my son lives in China - so every so often I get an "E-mail" from him stating he has been arrested and needs money to pay a bribe to get him from being sent to a work camp in Tibet.

They have all been false. We have a code word to signify a real message.

Good thinking! But if he does ever wind up in Tibet, I am not without influence in Bhutan... old prep school ties, doncha know!

3. Rob F. said...

First one of these I got was well over a year ago. An E-mail contact of mine was supposedly in London and had his wallet stolen, etc. Needed cash.

What makes these emails give one pause is that they are not the typical scam spam that comes from a bogus E-mail address or seeks to have the recipient click on a link to a bogus domain. These appear to be from the actual E-mail account of somebody with whom you've corresponded by E-mail.

I agree, but it's hard to see where the pay-off is for the one who cracked the known entity's E-mail account. Perhaps they are just harvesting return E-dresses for furture nefarious undertakings.
– Dean

4. Mrs. Genetics said...

Not to mention the crappy grammar, a usual dead giveaway.

Let's not be too critical of that aspect... under that sort of stress, who knows what sort of our faculties might disappear.

5. UsuallyQuietOnQuiogue said...

Since we last spoke, I've gotten an education from an attorney in charge of computer fraud in a DA’s office. According to my friend, what happened to me is not to be taken lightly and may not be fixed merely by changing E-mail account passwords.

His advice -- which I'd be a fool not to take -- is cancel any credit card used for on-line purchases or you have stored the card number for rolling charges such as EZ-Pass, change bank accounts if accessed for banking on-line, and stay watchful for use of social security number because hacking into an E-mail account is often the first step toward identity theft.

Maybe these creeps get lucky and some unsuspecting kind soul wires money or sends a credit card number in response to a sob story. But more often the information they're able to harvest is sold to someone down the line who takes time to piece together your personal data and there you have it, identity theft. Not only has your computer been hacked, but some cretin -– in my case that would be a Turkish cretin -- is spending your hard earned money!

I'll tell you what I always tell my wife... yes, dear.

I didn't think a simple change of password would do it... I think that more than your AOL account has been compromised.

Thinks like this have happened several times to my peripatetic daughter: Social Security number pilfered and used to open up bogus credit card accounts, jobs taken with her SS# and no with-holding, etc. I'll write about some of her identity-theft mis-adventures sometime.
– Dean

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