Editor's Soapbox

So, has anyone else received an email like this, coming from what appears to be your own email address?

First of all, the title of the email read:

Do you wan’t to be in hell?

The apostrophe added to “want” cued me in that maybe English wasn’t this writer’s first language. But I kept reading...


As you may have noticed, I sent this email from your email account (if you didn’t see, check the from Sender email ID.)

In other words, I have full access to your email account.

The sender went on to say that he had infected my computer with malware a few months back, and now has access to my contacts and the camera on my computer and has been making videos of me.

“I have been observing your actions,” he said.

Well, I wondered what he might have seen. When the office is quiet, and I am sure no one is looking, I have been known to ... pick my nose. I’m not proud of it, but it happens. He also may have gotten shots of me saying bad words at the computer when something goes wrong with that computer (and something always seems to go wrong, and always at the worst possible time).

Anyhow, the writer said he was going to release this video and send it to all of my contacts unless I paid him $900 in Bitcoin within eight days.

“After receiving the payment, I will delete the video, and we will forget everything,” he wrote. “Don’t share this email with anyone, this is our little secret!”

Whoops. Guess I shouldn’t have shared this “little secret” with our Pioneer readers! Hell, here I come...

OK, let’s get real for a second.

Of course, the writer doesn’t have access to my computer, and there is no video. This is just another variation on an old scamaroo.

He certainly didn’t have access to my email. He did have a program that could “spoof” my email address, which allowed him to send me an email which appeared to be from my own account.

To be clear, hackers can and do infect computers with malware and viruses, and they are perfectly capable of hijacking someone’s computer. That is why we have antivirus software, and why we all need to be extremely careful about clicking on links in email, downloading items and making sure we know that a USB stick is clear of infections before we put them in our computers.

This is maybe the fifth time I’ve received this particular scam email. In another version I’ve heard of, the writer might have access to an old password from some abandoned account. But don’t worry – that’s a scam too.

Well, the scammers will never quit. The best thing we can do is to spread the word when we do encounter a scam – particularly a new scam – so that our friends and neighbors know what’s going on and won’t fall for it. The internet age is full of complications and pitfalls, but at least, this time, we can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that no one is going to have to watch me pick my nose.

Mike Gainor is the editor of the Pine City Pioneer. Contact him at editor@pinecitymn.com or 320-322-5241.

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