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The former Daily Statesman is now The Dexter Statesman and currently does not have an operating website.

Don't trust your mouse!

Posted Tuesday, April 6, 2010, at 6:36 AM

Yes, I know my daughter will reprimand me for this photo of a stuffed hamster that I stole off the internet, but it does illustrate my point quite well, I think.
When my kids were little, they were fascinated by those little furry critters known as mice, gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs.

Since those innocent, pre-computer days, I've learned that a mouse can be a far trickier thing than the ones that used to scamper through my house before I got cats!

Yesterday I opened up my email to find this message from an acquaintance:

Hope you get this on time,sorry i didn't inform you about my trip to the United Kingdom, I'm presently in London and am having some difficulties here because i was robbed in the Hotel i booked in ,and they made away with my wallet (which included my cash, diaries and credit cards). My cellphones were not brought along since I did not get to roam them before coming over. The phone cables have been burnt including the Hotel's database has been compromised as well. So all I can do now is pay cash and get out of here quickly. I do not want to make a scene of this which is why I did not call the office or my house, this is embarrassing enough. Please I want you to lend me a sum of 1,250 Pounds , just to clear my Hotel bills and get the next plane home.

The ironic thing is -- It was from one of my Stoddard County Historical Society friends, and we had just talked about this exact scam at last month's meeting. She had obviously fallen for the same scam that we were warned about.

Of course, my friend did NOT send the email! Someone has stolen her email password and used it to get her address book. Then, they have sent out the above distress message to all her email contacts.

The scammer has no way of knowing how to customize his approach, so he inadvertently makes several mistakes. This attempt was pretty obvious to me - and, hopefully, to anyone else who received it. We can tell that it came from abroad, since Mr. Scammer asks her to send British pounds. An American would never say that, and most Americans don't usually refer to "England" as "the United Kingdom."

Still, it's possible someone could fall for it, and it's just darned troublesome to know that he has your email password. She'll have to change her password now to keep him out.

How did it happen?

The thing is -- it's so easy to click on the wrong thing these days. Your mouse can get you into so much trouble.

There's no way of knowing exactly how it happens, but, from what I've read, you can click on a message which asks if you want to update some program. One recent one was Java. One of my sister's friends clicked on a message which asked if he wanted to update his JavaScript. The next thing he knew, all his friends were getting the exact same distress message as the one above.

These messages pop up on my computer all the time - "Do you want to install a newer version of Adobe Reader?" for example. Clicking on the wrong thing invites disaster.

How do we know if the messages are real? I'm not sure, but the ones that you get by email are the ones to watch out for. I do know that if you're a big fan of all those forwarded messages, like - "If you are a true Christian, forward this email to at least 10 friends within the next ten minutes, and you will receive a blessing!" - you need to modify your habits. Many of those messages are just an attempt to get as many email addresses as possible. Notice how often the sender says to put his/her address first and then the addresses of 9 other friends?

Instead of just leaving all the addresses intact and hitting "forward," clean up the message first by erasing all the previous email addresses. How awful to think you're sending a friend a wonderful or helpful message - only to discover that you've sent them a virus or an invitation to be scammed.

From the innocent, pre-dawn suburbs of Tillman, Missouri, this is your rural reporter, Madeline, wishing everyone a lovely spring morning!

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

"If you are a true Christian, forward this email to at least 10 friends within the next ten minutes, and you will receive a blessing!"

You know, I have NEVER ever found any reference to needing to forward emails to be a true Christian in my copy of the bible. I must be missing a few pages. Where is it, 1 Computerus 3:18?

And before someone says the bible mentions "witnessing," do you really think sending those emails is doing anything to convert someone to Christianity or support someone struggling?

Madeline, that picture is....interesting.

And there is one big way I would know that said email didn't come from any of my friends. None of them would think I had any money to send them, so none of them would contact me!

-- Posted by Eliza on Tue, Apr 6, 2010, at 7:37 AM

Hahaha! I do so agree, Eliza! I really don't know why people let themselves get hood-winked and bullied into sending forwarded messages - for whatever reason. I always wondered what was IN it for the originator of the message. I thought, "Why are they so insistent that I send this message to as many people as possible??"

When I learned the truth, I felt like a fool for ever having done it. Of course, some of the messages are BEAUTIFUL things - with twinkling butterflies and very creative animations - so someone put a LOT of work into them. I can't imagine a scammer being so talented.

I just say - If it's a beautiful message, and you want to send it, erase all traces of the previous sender - and do not send it back to the sender! They've already seen it - Why would they need it back?

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Apr 6, 2010, at 8:44 AM

By the way, the dead hamster picture is gross!!!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Apr 6, 2010, at 8:45 AM

gl, I agree, but it could have been a little 'billie', so you would have been more upset. I never forward anything, unless it's a picture of Mildred's flowers blooming in the yard. Have a super day.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Tue, Apr 6, 2010, at 9:34 AM

The exact same message came to a friend of mine, supposedly from a friend of hers who had suddenly taken a trip to the UK and had forgotten all her grammatical and punctuation rules! That's your first clue--does the email read like your friend talks? Is the grammar incorrect? Are there misspellings?

Any more, I don't believe anything until I go to www.scopes.com and see if it's a hoax. Nor do I forward anything without checking it first.

-- Posted by lovebooks on Tue, Apr 6, 2010, at 1:47 PM

Always thinking, aren'tcha, Dexter?? Trying to get my goat!

Funny, lovebooks! Not only are the grammar and punctuation a dead giveaway, but you can usually tell that the author of the scam doesn't have a firm grasp of the English language.

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Apr 6, 2010, at 10:17 PM

goat lady, no one is wanting to get your goat, my brother in Arkansas is thinking of buying 3 little newbies to graze his 10 acres. They're so cute, he and his girl friend fell in love with them when they were born next door at their neighbors.

-- Posted by Dexterite1 on Wed, Apr 7, 2010, at 7:20 AM

They're especially cute when they're little, but you'd better advise them to make sure the little boys are neutered, or they won't be sweet long! Billies are not nice animals! And it is NOT easy raising them, if they plan to breed them. They can die of all kinds of things -- esp. worms. They have to be wormed about 4 times a year and have their hooves trimmed. When mine got grown, they also didn't want to share their houses with each other -- and they HATE wet weather!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Apr 7, 2010, at 10:17 PM

Agreed, the picture is especially disturbing!

I haven't gotten any of these emails, yet, but a big thank you for the warning. I DO NOT forward emails w/ the email addresses still intact, but I do forward a lot. I guess the days of the, "I'm someone who's trying to get you rich quick, but you have to send me money first." scams are over. How stupid do they think some people are anyway? Nevermind, don't answer that!

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Thu, Apr 8, 2010, at 11:46 AM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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