Wednesday, March 2, 2011


A couple of days ago I got the strangest e-mail.   It was from a sweet friend and the tone of urgency sent my heart into a flutter. 

The message stated that she had taken a trip to London (she's been known to do that!) and while there her purse was stolen along with all her money, credit cards, identification, etc.  She was receiving some help from the American Embassy but in order to come home she needed cash immediately.  There were phone numbers included where she could be reached and the name of the hotel where she was staying.

My mind began whirling as I set plans in motion to get help to her ASAP!     I would go to the bank, withdraw funds and wire the money to her.  I had visions of myself being in a foreign county in such a predicament and the panic I would feel.  My "kick-it-in-gear and do-something-quick" personality trait surfaced.

Instead of calling her London hotel, I decided to try her cell phone.  I had no hope that it would be answered, it was probably in the stolen purse, right?

On the third ring she calmly answered.  She was NOT in London at all but in her apartment in Dallas, right where she was supposed to be!!    It was all a scam!

Evidently a virus on her computer caused the ruckus and everybody in her address book got that same e-mail requesting money QUICK!

What a mess!  Her phone was ringing non-stop and she had to explain over and over again the truth of the situation.  Hopefully NO ONE called the London hotel, received directions and sent the money.

I'm sure the hackers had a plan to trick whoever might make that call!  I wondered how often they'd succeeded in their plot and how much money they'd received.   The plan must work or they wouldn't bother with it at all!

SO....I started thinking about recent cyber crimes in my world. 

A few months ago we got a call from a credit card company asking if we'd been to New Orleans recently.  Someone there had used my bank card, complete with secret pin number, to send a donation to a well-known news agency in IRAQ!  Nope, didn't know a thing about it.

Not long after that we started getting unexplained "gifts" delivered to the front door via UPS.  One beautiful coffee maker arrived, but since we don't even drink coffee it was suspicious!   Following up with that and a recent credit card statement we learned that someone in San Francisco was using my Visa card to purchase all sorts of things.  How those things got sent to OK is still a mystery!

Then there is the horror of identity theft!  We have not experienced that yet...may just be a matter of time.  But I have a friend that spent years trying to regain her reputation, credit standing and personal peace.

Also, a while back Honeybuns got a call from his company's bank asking why his signature was on a sizable withdrawal from the company account. Sure enough his "John Hancock" and that of the company's bookkeeper had authorized the transaction. Only problem there was that they had NO knowledge of this deal. There is no explanation as to how the crooks obtained those signatures.  The bank was very gracious and replied, "it happens all the time."

IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME!  WOW....rather than a abnormality, we have entered into a new era where cyber crime is really very common.   How the authorities police that action is beyond my pay scale!

So what's our options?  I don't see our society entering some sort of time machine and erasing all this super duper technology....and frankly I wouldn't want that to happen anyway.  I LOVE my iphone, my computer and all the "instant" freedom those things bring to my life.  My sons will text me back in a micro-second but never answer their land line.  Go figure!  (That is SO foreign to baby boomers!) I can send pictures, check the temperature in 10 different cities, verify my location, actually SEE the houses and streets of people I know, play games, listen to music, send out invites to a party, watch world news instantly as it unfolds,  tune into movies or old TV shows,  on and on...the options are never ending.

I love my credit cards too! And the fun and ease of shopping online! Every store, every designer, every quirky item ever invented can be viewed.  I can buy gifts, necessities and lots of non-essentials in the middle of the night in my jammies.  How cool is that? has my number!  I can research anything known to man with just two clicks and have answers to my medical questions in  the time it takes to say MD!  And don't get me started about Facebook....I love that, too!  I've reconnected with friends of long ago and  am able to communicate all sorts of happenings and news with new buddies as well. And I can see their faces, their cute kids and enter into their world if they allow it.

Nope, I'm not fighting this new life we've been awarded by Bill Gates and all his geeks.  I embrace it.

I think there is going to be crime as long as there are people on the planet.  There are folks that are driven to spend all their time and energy devising illegal plots for illegal gain.  Nothing new under the sun!  Just a new venue, CYBERSPACE!  WOW, those hackers must be really smart to figure it out! (Really! How many people  KNOW where Cyberspace is?!) You 've got to admire the intellect!

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