Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A case of accidental identity theft (almost)

Rudy had not checked her email in over a week.  After that last photo she just dreaded seeing any more responses.  Now she sat in front of Daddy’s computer, her paw hovering over the keyboard trying to make herself push the enter key.  There might be email from someone important.  Maybe the yarn lady would need someone to take over her blog while she was on vacation.  Maybe Tatum was worried about something.   Maybe monkeys would fly out of her…well, you know.  She closed her eyes and hit the key.  When she opened them several seconds later she saw a list of emails.  The usual.  A bunch offering money for school for mothers (that shut her out), human catnip by mail (why didn’t they just grow their own?) and a couple she didn’t understand.  No more responses to her personal ad.  Thank the Great Cat.

There was one from the gentleman in Nigeria.  Rudy really hadn’t thought she’d hear from him again.  Who’d want help from a cat without a bank account?  He wrote:

“Thank you for your kind response, Rudy.  There is no one else to help me, so help from a cat would be very welcome.  Since you have access to a computer, you obviously have a kind human with whom you live.  Your help wouldn’t be a big thing.  I’d just need his bank account information, so that I can transfer the money to him.  And since it is a transfer from country to country, I’d need a little extra information, just for bureaucratic paperwork.  I’d need his Social Security number, date of birth, address and his mother’s maiden name.   Governments can be so intrusive – they want to know absolutely everything about everyone, but this would help me immensely.  I await your prompt response.”

Rudy thought about it.  She’d heard the Daddy complain about some government things from time to time.  He got annoyed with it just like this nice man did.  So, she’d help him, but she wasn’t sure she knew all this information.  She knew his date of birth and address of course.  She could find the Social Security number. Mother’s maiden name, though, that was something she didn’t know at all, although maybe the yarn lady did.  Rudy sent her an email explaining why she needed the name and went to take a nap, figuring she could check her email again before Daddy got home.

A few hours later when she checked her Gmail account she found a response, but it wasn’t what she expected.  

“Rudy – do not send this man anything.  This is a very old trick, and it either ends up with you sending lots of money to the guy or identity theft.  If you think it was bad when someone charged money on Jay’s debit card, this could be a whole lot worse.  With that information, this scammer could open credit cards in his name and accumulate tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and he could have to pay for it all.  Please tell me that you haven’t sent any information yet.”

Rudy wanted to go hide under the porch in shame.  The Daddy had already had his identity stolen, and here she almost gave it away.  Luckily she hadn’t done anything yet, even to letting the Nigerian man know where she lived.  She composed a quick reply to the yarn lady to let her know she hadn’t sent any information and thank her.  Rudy then deleted the email, closed the email program and vowed to be a wiser cat in the future.  

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