It will never happen to me!

How many times have you used the phrase, “that will never happen to me?” I’m sure that in my own instance it has slipped past my tongue more than a dozen times a year. The phrase – That will never happen to me – is somewhat accusatorial, part prayer and part common sense. Because really, who would want to admit that something they did, or didn’t do, created challenges for others.

What I’m referring to is that my email account, jleno@safelink.net, was hacked last Friday and as a result, everyone that was in my address book got an email that looked as though it came from me but actually came from some hack out there on the world wide web.

First and foremost, if you are one of the email addresses that heard from me it is likely one of the fictitiously generated emails trying to find a way into your system so it can take over your address book and begin the process of passing the nonsense along. Don’t open any attachments from my jleno account. All that could come from doing so will be a bunch of upset people in your contacts wanting to throttle you.

The thing that gets most of us in trouble when it comes to emails, the world wide web, and everything tied to a computer is that we know just enough to be dangerous to ourselves and everyone else around us. I would love to understand how it all works, but for now I am content to surround myself with smart people that can help get me out of a bind when I’m in one.

Fraud over the world wide web (WWW) has a way of sucking us into many different scams with the common goal of defrauding us out of money or other resources.

A few months ago I heard about an opportunity to make a bunch of money. The email that clued me in about this excellent money making opportunity was from my cousin who lives in Canada. The opportunity required me to send in a little money to get a much bigger amount of money. The cousin this came from is smart and would never pass something like this along if it weren’t true.

Reading and then re-reading this email I quickly realized that this didn’t pass the smell test. If something appears too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. Someone out there on the WWW had hijacked her account and was using her email address to let people in her address book in on this great money for nothing scam. When I pointed this out to my cousin as well as the person who hacked into her account, the entire thing fell apart.

A variant on this scam begins by hijacking someone’s email account and then telling everyone in his address book how he took advantage of a system that helps him/her earn a lot of money. The scam requires you to buy gift cards at Wal Mart and send the validation codes on the back of the cards to them over the internet. Only after doing this can you be eligible to earn the many tens of thousands they will then deposit into your bank account.

One local woman posted her story of this happening to her as a warning to others not to fall for the same nonsense that she had dealt with. Her downfall was seeing the email address of a well-respected family friend. Seeing that he was endorsing the program lead her to believe that it was true. The emails weren’t coming from her friend, they were coming from someone pretending to be her friend through a hijacked email account.

If this happens to you do not send money, gift card numbers, or anything else with monetary value. You will quickly be separated from your money should you choose to go along with this scheme.

One final warning about people calling you while pretending to be one of your grandchildren. Lots of scammers will call and say they are being thrown in jail unless you come up with some bail money RIGHT NOW! They want cash or money orders though they will even take gift card validation codes. These scams are meant to prey on your heart-strings, forcing you to act immediately.

If this happens to you simply hang up. I will guarantee this much – if your grandchild is at risk of being arrested for something he or she did not do they will only be in jail a few days. But more than likely, your grandchild is thousands of miles away from where the caller is trying to scam you. We can’t all know our grandchildren by their voice over the phone but their parents certainly would. That’s why they call the elderly – because they are easier to browbeat into sending money.

The bottom line is this – too good to be true or bad news followed by demands for money are never true. Hang up and call the sheriff’s office so they are aware there is a scam going on in their community. Telling your friends you were the target of a scam won’t hurt your reputation, it will help them know how they should respond when they get the call.

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