Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Oldest Trick in the Book

My poor old mother fell for one of the oldest scams there is and I am shocked that she did so.  She has always struck me as a person who was so with it.  As she has aged, and she is over 80 now, she has gotten increasingly frail.  It is a shame to see a woman who was once so vibrant and capable begin to slide into the image I have of an old, frail, woman, tottering along with a cane.
She emailed me yesterday in response to an email I sent her about an event we are going to.  I emailed her because I thought she could print out the email rather than talk to her on the phone and risk her forgetting the details.  It appears that a person, or persons, stalked her on FaceBook and called claiming to be her grandson (not my son but my brother’s) saying that he was in New York City and had been in an accident.  He didn’t want her to call his parents but to wire money to him right away.  She said she questioned him about the sound of his voice but he claimed that a broken nose had changed it.  She wired the money he asked for and then sent more the following day when the person called back to say the hospital needed additional funds.  She apparently has contacted the authorities and they are on the case and apparently have found the suspects.  However, she is unsure if she is going to recover anything.
I told her that for the future, she needs to have a password in place with her grandsons.  If someone calls again, she is to ask them the password and if they don’t know it, or give the wrong one, she is to go to the police immediately.  With FaceBook, these kinds of scams are relatively easy.  One simply searches for women over the age of 70 and then looks at their accounts or people they know until they find a young family member they can claim to be. Then it is a simple cross reference with the phone directory to find the phone number and they are set. 
FaceBook is great, but there are risks.  This situation points to another reason why you really need to review your security settings to make sure that others cannot view anything about you unless they are friends.  Even with that you should not put any of your personal information on your profile unless you are sure there is no way someone can use it against you.  You need to be responsible for your own safety and constantly vigilant in this day and age when your life is an open book in the ether.

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