Okay…hmmm…well, I hadn’t heard this particular friend was planning on going to London. Not that it might not be possible. She enjoys traveling. But London? I really think I would have heard something from someone.
There were some other oddities about the message, little elements of it that didn’t ring true. My friend is articulate and doesn’t tend to be lazy in her written expression. She uses capitalization when appropriate, unlike in the message. She doesn’t say things like, “stole off.” She might say “ripped off,” but not stole off. That sounds English to me. As in Great Britain.
I was fairly certain the email had not been written by her, but what if she was panicked and not thinking right? There was that small possibility…
I went to her Facebook page. No mention of an upcoming trip to London there. In my half-sleep, I did email back, but no answer. So a little while later I tried texting her. She replied that she was fine, was not in London, and that her email and Facebook had been hacked into. The hackers had control and she couldn’t access any of her contacts.
As the day went on, I heard from a couple of other mutual friends who were concerned. Thankfully, I was able tell them right off that it was a scam and our friend was fine. I eventually just picked up the phone and called her. I wanted to hear her voice and let her know that we were concerned and trying to figure out how we might help her resolve this issue. I also wanted her to know what the hackers had been up to. By that point, they were using her Facebook account to reach her friends, claiming, again, that they were her and that “she” needed money. They’d even tried chatting in real time with some of her friends.
I’m praying that no one fell for it. I really doubt they did.
If nothing else, it’s an interesting study in how evil works. Evil always operates in the darkness, through deceit. I know my friend was feeling a bit like a victim on Friday, as well she should have been. I think all of us who are connected to her feel a little like we’re all being used. It’s an unnerving feeling to realize that some unnamed person or persons are pretending to be our friend, reaching out to those who love her, preying on their and her goodness. I feel ill at the thought of it. But even in this hackers’ heydey, something good has occurred.
Throughout the course of the day, I had a nice email conversation with a girlfriend whom I hadn’t talked with for a while, and I chatted by phone with another friend whose voice I hadn’t heard in several decades. And even though she said trying to reclaim her accounts was the last thing she’d wanted to do with her Friday, the friend who’d been victimized admitted she’d been heartened by hearing from so many friends, too, and had enjoyed hearing their voices.
I readily agreed that it had been lovely talking with her and others, even if under strange circumstances. Even as evil churned and plotted, friends came together, made connections, tried to figure out how to help. Love existed within that scenario. It was nearly palpable.
These are childhood friends. Many of us have not seen each other for 20 years or more. And yet we connected again through hearing of our friend’s misfortune. We know that it could have happened to any of us, and we can only hope that if it did, our friends would have our backs, too.
When I posted about this scam on my Facebook status, quite a few people responded that they know someone to whom this has happened recently as well. It’s rampant. Evil is out there in cyberspace, alive…but not well. For while it is crafty, and sometimes even wins at its game temporarily, it can never claim the final victory. Love is much stronger than it will ever be.
My dear mother-in-law, who is always on top of technology issues and advancements, sent me a link to find out more about how to protect yourself from this kind of trouble, through the help of tech guru Kim Komando. Go here to learn how to stand up to these bullies.
And in the meantime…do everything you can to ensure that love will have the last say.
Q4U: What are some examples in your life of how love still rules?