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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.
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.
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!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.