BEWARE of hackers. They’re on the loose probably because in addition to being inherently depraved, with the travel restrictions, they now have plenty of time on their hands. God’s mercy must be boundless; otherwise, He would have already dispatched them to hell via the pandemic, and the world would have been a little better for it.
Hacking is not new. Many years ago, a close relative lost a little fortune to scoundrels who accessed his emails and redirected more than half a million dollars intended as payment for airplane parts to a Hongkong bank account. They reported the swindle to the authorities but eventually lost interest after the Hongkong Police told them they had received a number of similar complaints in the past but had not been able to make even just one arrest.
Not all thieveries through the Internet involve millions. A friend told me his daughter lost P50,000 to a swindler who, having hacked the email account of a business partner, claimed he needed the money for their joint venture. She never saw her money again, of course, but at least she became little wiser.
In another case, a government employee deposited P10,000 to a bank account upon an e-mailed request from a friend who claimed that he was stranded in London because he had been robbed of his belongings, including his passport. It turned out that the friend did not send the mail and had not at any time left the country.
Common in all the three cases is the lack of verification by the victims before they parted with their money. Had they only bothered to verify by phone, my relative would have been given the correct bank information by his supplier, my friend’s daughter would have discovered that there was no business undertaking that needed additional funding, and the government employee would have learned that his friend was only in his hometown, not stranded in London.
The motive for hacking is mostly profit. Big business does it to spy on, and gain advantage over, the competition. Others make money from selling stolen information or from demanding ransom. Even governments are into the act as they compete for world dominance.
But the most common concern now are the attacks on social media accounts by petty criminals. The most common target is Facebook. Only recently, veteran broadcaster Manny Rabacal reported that someone has been sending messages through Messenger to his Facebook friends using his account and profile picture.
The same thing happened to me yesterday. Facebook friends of Torni Frank received and continue to receive messages from someone using a slightly different handle (Torni____Frank) but bearing my profile photo, asking for donations to a supposedly charitable project that I was involved in. The message starts with an innocuous hello before he segues into a discussion of his charitable work and his need for contributions.
I advise my FB friends to immediately block the bastard. I am also asking a particularly good friend, National Bureau of Investigation Regional Director Renan Oliva, if he can trace this petty criminal through his IP address so I can shake his hand and pat his cheek. Gently, of course.