It is interesting to see how the Internet has changed things.
Let’s start off with those innumerable e-mails that warn of some impending doom and disaster coming and we need to flood the bandwidth with notes to our friends, neighbors, cohorts and persons we haven’t even met. And don’t forget all those wonderful messages from various and sundry agencies warning us that our accounts have been comprised and we need to contact them immediately or our accounts will be terminated. All this has done is lead to a new term in the internet lexicology, “phishing”. I have put notes about similar problems in “An Emerging Technical Problem”and “Continuing Thoughts on Emerging Technical Problems”.
There there were those e-mails from Nigerian bankers informing us that we could get untold sums of money, provided we send them a down payment and our checking account information. As I noted in a previous piece, I even got an e-mail from the FBI once asking for my assistance in tracking down those same Nigerian bankers.
Then, we started receiving e-mails from our friends telling us that there were stranded somewhere in Europe without any assistance and that they needed our help getting home. (Never mind that if you can get a U. S. Consular office or embassy, that pretty much takes care of the problem.)
Some of us have even been invited to give a talk or presentation overseas but the organizers need a few extra bucks from us to resolve issues related to the visa and travel permits (see “There’s A Sermon In Here Somewhere But First A Warning!”)
So it is not surprising that the efforts at easy money have shifted back to the telephone. How many people have received phone calls from Microsoft Tech Support informing us that there are viruses on our computer? All we need to do is let them install some software on our computer that will remove those viruses. Of course, in doing this, you have now let a real virus come into your system and it can now go out into the world and multiply. And you probably better not use the credit card that you gave them because they maxed that out a long time ago.
When these scammers refer to Windows, I sometimes mention that I work in a windowless office and sit by the door. Other times I wonder why my Mac has Windows.
But the new scam is the one we received yesterday informing us that the Government is going to give us $8400! Of course, all we have to do is give them our credit card information or our checking account and routing numbers and we will have our funds within 45 minutes. This one got real interesting when I asked the individual for some form of identification, such as their Social Security number. They hung up.
In this time, when things are rough, it becomes very easy to think that any of these requests are real. But the one thing is that most of what these will do is make life rougher, not easier. See “Let’s Think About This For A Moment” for some additional thoughts on some of the e-mails and blog posts we get at times.
So if you need a laugh to avoid from crying, get a copy of the “Bad Times Virus”.