On Friday I was checking my friends’ status updates and general goings-on on Facebook. I was chatting with my sister, which I regularly do, when my back-door neighbor popped up and starting chatting with me.
For me that was strange…my back-door neighbor is really shy, and even though she requested my friendship on Facebook, we’ve never really talked in real life. We’ve lived here 3 months and the winter has driven me inside. I promise, I will start getting to know my neighbors better when Spring comes. But I digress. I’ve talked to my back-door’s neighbor’s husband at church at lot. He’s much more out-going than she is. Their daughter is in our Sunday School class and she’s a very nice, sweet kid. She’s played with our daughter on occasion and sometimes they walk to school together in a big group.
So for me, it was really weird that she would start chatting with me on Facebook when, hello, she lives right behind, and with no fence up she could have just walked across the yard and knocked on my back door. It was also really weird because she’s never talked to me before in real life, so it was kind of weird to do it for the first time on Facebook.
She asked me how I was doing and we exchanged the usual pleasantries. Then she told me that they were trapped in London and needed money to get back home. Um, weird considering I saw you walking around your house last night. Then she told me they had come to London spur of the moment and were robbed at gun point at their hotel and they lost everything but their passports. She never came out and directly asked me for money, just kept telling me how awful and scary London is and how they need help.
Of course I saw red flags all over this and immediately knew it was a scammer. I called the hubs, who has our church directory on his phone, and got their home number to warn her that someone had highjacked her Facebook account. While this scammer was trying to goad me into offering help, I wrote, “that’s so weird that you’re in London when I’m looking at you right now standing on your back deck talking to your daughter in the backyard and you’re not holding a computer.” Whoever had highjacked her account logged off and went offline immediately.
After that I went outside and talked to my neighbor to warn her. She said she already knew and that another one of our neighbors had acted like she had fallen for it when they chatted with her and had gotten all the scammer’s information so she could pass it on to the proper internet authorities. She told me that someone had hacked into her email and Facebook and changed the passwords on her so she can no longer access them. How scary and violating. She’s contacted the administrators of both sites asking them to shut down her accounts.
How sad that the first time I really talk to my neighbor it’s about a crime perpetrated against her.
I just think it’s funny that the scammer chose to try to scam the one person who has the clearest view of my neighbor’s house in the entire world. Most of the windows face toward my house and I can always tell if they’re home or not. I hope the scammer knows the jig is up and will stop all of this. Probably not. They’ll just move onto the next victim until they get caught again. They’d have to grow a conscience in order to stop, and that usually doesn’t happen with sociopaths.
So this is a warning to all my friends…if you have a Facebook account…change your password often. Same goes with your email. Be careful about the sites you visit and the information you input.