What a wonderful group of friends I met online. Ever since I received an email from an online business stating, "Dearest Friend, we are so sorry that your online personal data has been compromised due to no fault of our own. You should take the necessary precautions in the remote chance someone gets a hold of your personal identifiable information." Aw what nice fellows they were at that online business to have concern for me when they had lost so much personal information from all their customers. People online really do care.
Anyway, while I really didn't understand why someone would want to "get a hold of (on?) my personal data", I figured it was all good, especially since the nice business people had taken up so much of their personal time to inform me of their problems.
It wasn't more than a month later that I started to figure out what "get a hold on" actually meant. It meant that I got all kinds of new and wonderful friends! My new friends were emailing me almost everyday with all kinds of neat things like; telling me I had won the lotto, how to get free hair replacement (I'm not too sure if that's possible), free memberships in buying clubs, free e-cigarettes (never heard of that brand), and lots of girls I had never met that wanted to date me (yep, no kidding).
Now I know what you're thinking. You think I must be lying because nobody can make friends that fast and be so popular. But I'm telling you I had all kinds of people sending me email and wanting to be my friend. I got email from Eric George(Personal Assistant)to the Secretary-General of the United Nations,
FBI Director Mueller, IRS Special Agents, Pastors, and Barristers (whatever they are, bar owners?).
Well I got so many new friends at once that I didn't know who to answer first. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings by not taking the money and other free things that they were offering me. Luckily for me I ran into my best friend Stanwicki at the KMart downtown. I nudged up along side Stanwicki as he was eating a pretzel with mustard on it, and I told him my story about the whole "getting a hold on" thing.
I'll never forget what he said to me. He said,"You butt head! Don't you know when someone is trying to steal something from you?" Of course I knew he was joking because no one stole nothing from me - they were actually trying to give me things. So I said those very words to Stanwicki. He said,"You butt head. The ones saying they will send you money are called "spammers" and they will cheat you by getting you to send money to them first. Your other buddies are called "phishers" and they try to get you to click on the links in their emails so you can go to their fake web sites and buy fake products from them."
After he dropped that bomb on me, and finished eating his pretzel, he just got up and left. Of course I was just kind of sitting there with my mouth open, wondering what the heck all that spamming and phishing (fishing?) stuff was about. Why would someone go fishing in a computer?
Anyway when I got home I decided to look at my email and see if I could cipher this whole spamming and fishing thing. So I just went by what Stanwicki said, if they were trying to send me money then those must be spammers, and if they had a web site they wanted me to click on those must be the guys that do the fishing. Now I got to tell you that I am still confused about the whole fishing thing. I've been fishing many a time and I sure didn't see no fish anywhere around my computer. Maybe it's one of those misnaming things, when people call things the wrong word?
Even after I sorted my emails out into spammers and fishers, I still didn't see how anyone was cheating me. They all seemed to be nice people. Why would nice people try to cheat me? I ain' t never known Stanwicki to lie to me before about anything, but it could be maybe that Stanwicki just didn't understand how nice these spamming and fishing people were. I couldn't just not answer all these nice emails, and besides what would the Director of the FBI think if I just left him hanging after he had been so nice to me?
So what I did was I came up with a plan, I decided I would introduce my spamming friends to my friends that liked fishing. So I put the FBI Director's email into the form on the free buying club web site. And I gave my friend from the UN a sign up at the free home loan site. Then I signed up the friendly girls for the free e-cigarettes so they could get their minds on something else. Well I was almost done with my mixing and matching my friends together when my computer went all crazy. It kind of went all squiggly and then I just had a blue screen staring at me. I tried to restart the computer but it still stayed the same, just a blue screen with some wavy lines.
I didn't know what to do and I decided to call Stanwicki and ask him. So I called Stanwicki and told him how my computer got dead from introducing my spamming friends to my fishing buddies. Stanwicki yelled, "You moron. Didn't I tell you to leave those thieves alone? Now you went and got yourself a virus that crashed your computer from one of those phishing sites. What's the matter with you anyway?" Well I told Stanwicki that there was nothing wrong with me but my computer sure wasn't feeling very good. Stanwicki just harrumphed at me over the phone and said, "Just leave the computer alone and I'll fix it as soon as I can."
A week went by since my computer died and Stanwicki still hadn't fixed my computer. So I went down to the KMart to see if I could find him. Well wouldn't you know that I ran into Mary Jo from my old high school while I was looking for Stanwicki. Well I don't know what happened but the next thing you know me and Mary Jo were eating pretzels with mustard in the KMart. I just kind of looked at Mary Jo and asked her, "Mary Jo. You ever hear of someone fishing in a computer?" She took her pretzel out of her mouth, stared at me with her big blue eyes, and replied, "Of course not silly. Who would ever try to do that?" I just kind of slowly nodded my head up and down and didn't say anything else about it.
I finally found Stanwicki a few days later and I asked him when he was going to fix my computer. He just kind of looked at me and said, "I'll fix your computer when you get some smarts in your head." I told him I felt plenty smart enough and that I missed my online spamming and fishing buddies. He just kind of glared at me and said in a real soft voice, "And that's why I'm not fixing it."
I didn't get much chance to miss my spamming and fishing buddies after that, as me and Mary Jo kind of became an item. I do remember asking her one day, "Mary Jo. You ever try one of those e-cigarettes?" Her eyes went all wide and she said, "What kind of a girl do you think I am?" I just shut my mouth and never mentioned anything about my spamming and fishing friends again.
(This is a fictitious story based on real events. Never communicate with spammers or intentionally visit phishing web sites. They will definitely attempt to rob you by direct or indirect means.
Visiting phishing web sites can result in some nasty key logging viruses being put on your computer. Key logging viruses attempt to steal your passwords for banking, shopping, and other places that you won't like.
Some articles for further reading you might be interested in: InfoHQ Article, "Fighting
Back Against Email Spammers, Internet Hackers, and other Web Thieves", the FBI's "Common Fraud Schemes", FTC consumer alert, "How Not to Get Hooked by a ‘Phishing’ Scam".)