I WAS ambushed last Sunday. From out of the blue, I got a message from Ankie, my cousin. He wrote—innocently and harmlessly, “How are you?”
I replied, “I’m ok. In lockdown, like the rest of the world.”
Then the guy asked me, “How are you? Pahingi ng email address and phone number mo para ma add kita sa new yahoo address book ko (Can you give me your email address and phone number so I can add you up in my new yahoo address). Thank you.”
Oops, I gave my email address but I replied with a caveat, “I seldom use my email. I find clunky.” True, I seldom use my email for that reason.
With this, alarm bells began ringing in my head. I began to be suspicious that it might be a phishing expedition to get more personal details.
A check with Google has this to say; Phishing is typically carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging; it often directs users to enter personal information at a fake website which matches the look and feel of the legitimate site.
“May babayaran kasi ako sa Pinas and he urgently needs the money dahil ang anak niya nasa hospital at nasa ICU. Nakahiram kasi ako sa kanya and I don’t have means to repay him. Gabi na dito at wala akong magawa. Hindi din ako makapagsend online. Hihiram muna ako sayo at ikaw na magapapadala sa kanya. Babayaran kita agad on wednesday with interest. that’s okay with you (I have to pay someone in the Philippines and he urgently needs the money because his son is admitted in the ICU. I borrowed from him and I don’t have means to repay him. It is already late and I can’t do anything. I can’t also send online. I would like to borrow from you and if you can send it to him. I will pay you back on Wednesday with interest, if that is okay with you.).”
Oops, the typical appeal to greed. I stopped giving more details. I hemmed and hawed, started making excuses.
Besides, the giveaway is that my cousins from my maternal and paternal sides always communicate in English. Thank you for our mastery of the language.
“Oops many of my in-laws and friends borrowed from me and have not paid,” I replied. “Ganun ba.. i will b,” the guy replied.
I closed the conversation by deflecting him to “Maybe your Ate Deng can help. Or even Kuya Nel. Then he closed the conversation with “Okay I will.. please it’s confidential.” Yeah, right. Then I got the guy out of my mind. Let him worry about who the heck is Deng or Nel. No one among my Facebook friends have those names.
Then last Monday, I got this message from the real deal, “My FB was hacked Friday night. I just recovered the FB page now. I hope you did not give more information than you did to the hacker. I will stop actively using this FB page and will use FQ. instead so if you receive suspicious emails and phone calls, just block them. I’m glad to see your progress and I am praying for you.”