Since many publishers ask that authors have a robust online presence, I’m revisiting a topic that, sadly, hasn’t gone away since I wrote about it a few years ago. This article is worth everyone’s time if I can save even one person from being scammed.
Recently, I received a private message on Facebook from a man I didn’t know, saying that he liked my profile and would like to get to know me. I blocked him immediately. Here’s why:
The generic message. My guess is that this introductory salvo was composed by a scammer who speaks English well, so it sounded authentic. But couldn’t all of us send that message to anyone and everyone on Facebook? We all like people’s profiles and would like to know them better.
I don’t think the person looked at the cover photo of my husband and me or read my profile: Married to my knight in shining armor! Mother of two lovely daughters. Agent at Steve Laube Agency. I think the scammer trolled for women and pasted the same introduction in an untold number of private messages.
The person had no reason to be in touch with me. I think the messenger is a teenager in a boiler room overseas.
I understand if you’re saying, “This is a great big So What!” For me, yes, because I didn’t respond. But I’ve watched enough Dr. Phil catfishing shows to know that these criminals show no mercy. They aren’t content to say, “Well, I got $20,000. That’s good enough.” They have no qualms about asking victims to wipe out all their life savings and even sell their homes to rob them of all their money, equity, and assets.
We must be cautious not only for ourselves but also for those we love.
My parents passed away recently, and neither owned a computer. We tried to buy one for them; but my mother said, “The Internet ruins marriages.” She’d heard stories early on, and I can’t say they were untrue.
However, unlike today’s population, my parents never needed a computer for work, so they were never motivated to master computer use. And to them, a phone was a phone. They had no Internet access in their home. I know many people in their eighties and beyond who use computers. But as a general rule, I believe my parents were members of the last generation less likely to consider computers and smartphones part of their daily lives.
Everyone is online. If you care about someone susceptible to loneliness, make a special note regarding their contacts and relationships. Keeping tabs can be tricky for a lot of reasons since everyone wants autonomy. However, no one wants themselves or a loved one to be victimized.
As with any part of life, go forward and enjoy. Just be wise.