Thursday, May 22, 2008

Democratic Staffer Victim Of Internet Hacker

You've all received one of those e-mails from some lost royal tribe member in Africa seeking your assistance in helping him get his long-lost multi-million dollar inheritance. If you're the sucker, you wind up with a drained bank account instead of the quick payoff for helping the poor guy out you were promised. Today, I received an "urgent" e-mail purporting to be from Russell Bennett, a Senate Democratic Caucus staffer. Here's how it it read:

I want you to read very carefully bcos it's very urgent and important, so please don't see it as a Joke or some kind of virus/spam. I am currently out of states on personal business trip to Lagos. Unfortunately, I lost both my wallet & my ATM card, maybe in the hotel where I'm lodging or somewhere else.

I'm totally confused about that, as I don't know what to do, I went to the US Embassy to report the issue of my losted items and to also seek for a loan to pay the hotel bills but its unfortunately nothing could be done to assist me financially.

The hotel management were not taking it easy with me, just because I couldnt paid up my bills since I've lodged in. I have been restricted from calling & receiving calls, the telephone line to my room has been disconnected. I didn't traveled with my phone since my trip was outside the country, I would have prefer discussing this on phone, and since I have no access to phone I decided to contact you by email because its the only avenue I could use to send you this urgent notice.

I'm totally stranded and have no dime on me here, after calling my bank and they couldn't do any wire transfer to me since i'm oversea, i decides to contact you immediately. can you please do me a favor? I need a loan worth of $950 from you so that I could be able to pay the hotel bills and plan on coming back home. Will you be able to loan me the money and how soon, I just need it ASAP? I promise to pay you as soon as I return home. I need to pay the hotel bills so that I could be allowed to pack my luggage and leave to board a flight back home without any delay.

Write back to me ASAP and let me know how you could assist me with the loan, then I could give you further instruction on how to send the money to me via western union money transfer.

Please keep this confidentially, as I wouldn't want anyone to know about this since no one knows about the trip because all my plans was that its going to be a successful one and I will be back with No cause for alarm.

Being that this urgent e-mail came from a very unlikely source, I forwarded it to fellow blogger Jen Wagner, who suspected Bennett had been the victim of an Internet hacker. Sure enough, a short while later I received this e-mail from Bennett, entitled "Many Many Many Apologies", explaining what happened:

Well, as you all have figured out, someone hacked into my email today and sent an email to all of you. I am SO sorry that this happened and I have no idea how it did happen. I hope that this didn't inconvenience anyone too much.

I appreciate the dozens of calls I received to make sure I was alright. Before I knew that this email had gone out, I thought all of the calls were to wish me a Happy Birthday :)

I would also like to thank those of you who knew the email was fake because of the spelling and grammar, I write MUCH better than that!

On the bright side, I now know where Lagos is.

Again, very sorry for the problem, I would promise to not let it happen again but I didn't have any control over it this time, so hopefully things will be okay in the future.


Russell said...

If only everyone had sent the $950 like I requested, I wouldn't have to work for several years :)

This event definitely put a crimp in my birthday plans, but it'll be memorable for sure. I just feel bad that it went to all of my professional contacts, including all of the Democrat Senators and several lobbyists.

So, many apologies to Gary and to everyone else who got my strange messages, I hope it has stopped, but I don't know how it happened to start with, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Gary R. Welsh said...

No apologies are owed to me, Russell. There's hardly a day that goes by that I don't receive a similar e-mail. I hope everyone's eyes are as wide open on these soliciations as I am by the point in time.

varangianguard said...

The "highlights" of this message:

"out of states"

"my losted items"

"management were"

"paid up my bills"

"since I've lodged in"

"I didn't traveled with my phone"

"have no dime on me here"

"i'm oversea"

"i decides"

And, the whole last paragraph.

Frankly, with English like this, I was fooled. ;)

MissouriDemocrat said...

When these solicitations became popular back 5 to 6 years ago, (right around the time of Steve Carter's election) I called his office and asked if they had anyone I could forward the email to for them to have on record in case investigations etc might lead to arrests and prosecution. They graciously gave me an email to the consumer protection division and I just forward those down there as I receive them. Each time it delights me that I get them, and boom they go to law enforcement.