Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Yes, I still exist; no, I'm not in London

If, we've emailed in the past, you may have received an unfortunate email from me recently.  This email stated that I was in London, England, had been mugged, and was receiving no assistance from the embassy or the police.  The simple reason I wasn't getting any help from anyone- I wasn't in London.  I was at home.  The person who sent the email was also not in London, but in Nigeria (not joking!).  My email account was hacked.  It's now back under control, albeit in much disarray.  The perpetrator not only sent out fraudulent emails, but ransacked my space by deleting all contacts, sent emails, my inbox, and all other emails in that account.  They also changed a bunch of security settings and forwarded my email address to lkregulla@yahoo.com (note the two "L"s).  I'm back in the process of restoring order to my cyber-world.

Proximally, no harm was done.  No one with whom I've had communication sent any sensitive information to the scam artist.  There was no rash of slander, libel, absurdity, or meanness.  I did, however, hear from many people with whom I don't have as much communication as I would like, through no fault of anyone's, just the byproduct of hectic lives.  That was the only upside of the whole thing- the outpouring of concern and reconnecting. 

Ultimately, the episode has severely shaken my faith in humanity.  I've heard of internet scam artists, I've been the recipient of fraudulent emails, but I've always viewed it with an air of humor.  Surely, no one believes these emails, right?  Everyone knows enough to be skeptical about requests for money or claims of international lottery winnings, right?  And the email addresses utilized for this end are dedicated emails without an honest, real person on the other side, right?  How wrong one can be. 

I had a strong password.  I used different passwords for different accounts.  I don't use public computers.  I thought I did everything right.  Again, how wrong one can be.  I'm thankful that there was no horrible, or even a bad outcome to this situation.  I'm hurt to be reminded that people do engage in malicious and fraudulent behavior.  I'm glad to know that if push came to shove, I have friends that would have my back.  And they can recognize me from some stranger- mainly due to having the "mouth of a poetic sailor", my good grammar, and my invulnerability.  I <3 my friends.

I mentioned earlier that the scam artist was most likely from Nigeria.  This assertion is based on their IP address, and I do realize that IP addresses can lie (not that I have any experience- cough- Doctor Who- cough).  But it seems ironic that this particular person originated from Nigeria, the stereotyped home of internet scams.  Nigeria also happens to have a history of violence and economic disparity possibly worse than our own economic divide.  There's arguably a reason people are desperate and resort to desperate measures there.  Is this what we want for more of the world?  Ethnic/sectarian divisiveness, economic and social oppression, and general melee to make individuals resort to tactics of last resort?  This is a globalized world, and national borders no longer contain criminals, violence, oppression and hopelessness.  National boundaries also cannot contain hope, justice, love, equality, freedom and tolerance.  Which world are you helping to create?  How are you helping to shape the future?