Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hijacking Greta

The other day I read in the Providence Journal about an old lady who received a phone call from her grandson. The grandson lived in Florida, and she hadn’t talked to him in awhile. He calls her up and said “Grandma, I’m in Canada and I got arrested. I need $2,000 to post bail.” The grandma told him that she’d call his parents, and he was all like “NO! They can’t ever find out, they’ll be so mad at me. Can we please keep this between us?” She wired the grandson some money to some location in Canada and then called him back on his cell to tell him that she’d wired the money.

Then her worst nightmare came true. The grandson said “What are you talking about? I’m not in Canada. I’m having lunch with my co-workers in Florida…” She’d been taken for a $2,000 ride, and of course that money’s gone.

Then just yesterday I got an email from my friend Greta. Apparently she was in the UK, been mugged at gunpoint, and needed some money so she could settle up with the hotel and fly home that night. She promised to pay me back when she got home.

The problem? Greta was not in the UK. Greta lives in Florida. Even though I don’t talk to Greta every day, I knew that she was not on a “last minute vacation to London.” Luckily I knew enough not to wire Greta the $2,500 she’d asked for. (Where the hell did she stay that she needs $2,500 to “settle the hotel bill” and how much caviar did she get from room service??)

Greta’s email account had been hacked. Her facebook page had been hacked too. The hacker posed as her and chatted to her friends online trying to get them to send money. Her friends knew that Greta was not in the UK. One even said “I am texting with Greta right now. You are not Greta. I just saw her this morning.” The hacker then disconnected from the chat and retreated. Greta’s friends know better, and have not given the hacker a dime.

Internet, if you get an email or a phone call about a friend of yours that is in trouble please verify it before you act. One little phone call to the grandson’s cell phone would have saved the grandma $2,000.

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