Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Day My Facebook Account Was Hacked

I am not in London. I have not been mugged. But if you want to send money I won’t say no. On Monday morning I innocently checked my email to find a message from my friend B. asking if I was really in London, had I really been mugged, and did I really need her to wire me $4,000 so I could come home. I had heard about this scam, now it had me. It has been many years since I have received bogus emails sent from myself (ostensibly) to me (and others in my address book) asking me to buy Viagra, visit porn sites, or send my firstborn child to a brothel in Cambodia. Our spam filters, firewalls, and virus protection are excellent. But they apparently don’t do any good on Facebook. I contacted Facebook Security and they immediately disabled my account. They took my page down. Then I spent my morning emailing everyone I know and asking them not to send me money. What is wrong with this picture?

At first I thought the hacker had accessed my personal email address book because B. sent a confusing and cryptic email to my personal email account. But that was not the case. The integrity of my computer and email account were never compromised. It was all Facebook. The cybercriminals impersonated me and contacted a handful of my friends who use Facebook chat rooms a lot to extort money from them. I never chat on Facebook (if you get a chat from me then it’s not me). I never join groups or play games on Facebook (beware Mafia Wars and Farmville people, you are particularly vulnerable). I’m one of the least vulnerable people on Facebook and I got played.

The worst part was emailing everyone in my address book to warn them that I had been played. How embarrassing, and, as it turned out, completely unnecessary since my address book was never infiltrated. So now I’m simply stranded in Ukiah with too many children in college, a mortgage, a stack of bills, and my quarterly income tax due in a few weeks. Forget London. Send chocolate.

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