February 25, 2015
Yesterday a friend told me that my e-mail had been hacked. I think this is the second or third time this has happened to me. Of course, I immediately changed my password. But I got to thinking, and I guess I’m naive. I don’t understand why anyone would hack emails just to send out spam—especially spam that would take you to a website where you are invited to buy something.
My confusion comes from the one question that arises in my mind as I contemplate this scenario: who the hell is stupid enough to click on a link in an email, or to buy something from a website that we’re directed to in this way?
I mean, seriously?
It’s like those emails that I used to get a couple of years back from some phoney lawyer or bank executive in some third world country, telling me that I am the beneficiary of someone I’ve never heard of, and that said recently departed heretofore unknown relation left me millions of dollars.
I used to be deeply offended by these missives, because I couldn’t understand how anyone could possibly mistake me for someone stupid enough to fall for that kind of crap. But I’ve gotten over that. I’ve come to accept, though it’s hard for me to imagine, that there really are people stupid enough to fall for this scam, and many other of the scams out there.
I’m pretty sure that spammers wouldn’t continue doing what they do if there was no profit in it at all.
I do know that identity theft is a growing problem. I understand that. The other kind of email I get from time to time looks like it comes from my bank. This email typically will tell me my online access to my account has been restricted and I need to click on a link in order to have it restored.
My response, of course, is not only to ignore their instructions, but to forward the email in its entirety to my bank. They have a special email account that begins with the word “phishing.” I know that every time I do that I’m doing the only thing I can to help fight these con artists.
I also get emails from other banks telling me that my accounts are in jeopardy – but since they are institutions with which I have no connection, I just delete those.
I’ve heard lately of a really nasty kind of scam making the rounds—that people are contacted by phone or email and threatened with law suits or jail time if they don’t pay up dollars they don’t even owe. A lot of folks are so frightened by these calls and letters they do what they are told to do, to avoid this imaginary legal action.
I really feel sorry for the people who are victimized by these criminals. I feel sorry for them because this isn’t really a matter of their being stupid. No, this is a side effect, a fringe benefit if you will, from living in a society that in the last decade or so appears to be overrun with people in positions of authority who use fear as their medium of choice.
You know who they are. They are the politicians and bureaucrats who stir up their followers by playing on their worst fears—who do their best to convince us that their opponents are evil incarnate, that their political opponents are selling us out, are our enemies...when they really are only people with a different opinion, a different point of view, or a philosophy or religion that is not the exact same as our own.
I can hear some of you now sputtering. “Morgan, surely to goodness you don’t mean to imply that our community leaders and elected officials are in league with these con artists?”
In league, no. But sometimes we tend to forget there are such things as natural laws, and the existence of those kinds of cons are an expression of one such natural law.
Cause and effect, baby. Cause and effect.