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He was such a nice man, Harvey Hambrose. He would sit with us on our four squares of patio and talk to us kids. He would ask me how I did in my arithmetic test and who I liked most on the Phils.

He was such a trusted man, our insurance agent. It wasn’t until two years later that we found out he stole our money, our $7 a week, and ran off to Mexico with his girlfriend. It was the most shocking thing, the dirtiest deed, someone had ever done in our neighborhood.

Back then, people were honest. It’s just the way we were brought up. Do unto others. The insurance scandal was talked about for years. Among civilized people, things like that just weren’t done.

And then, many years later, many Mexicos ago, came the internet. A place where crooks could hide, a place where people felt emboldened to lie, to cheat, to steal. We have become a nation of victims. We change our passwords, we buy protection, we put metal cards in our wallets. But they still find us.

By now, you or someone in your family has gotten the phony “IRS” call. Whatever you do, don’t call back. The IRS will never make initial contact with you over the phone – only through certified mail.

But don’t rest easy. There’s always a new scam. Just yesterday, I got this message in my voicemail:

“…if you do not respond, you will be taken under custody by the local cops, as there are four serious allegations pressed on your name at the moment. We would request you to get back to us so that we can discuss this case before taking any legal action against you. The number is 646-809-9642.”

Again, do not call back, and report it to “the local cops.”

But it doesn’t stop with phone messages. Remember those emails you got that were written in broken English, telling you some foreign “prince” was going to give you thousands of dollars? But all you had to do was put up a few hundred yourself? They were easy to avoid; nobody is going to give you money for nothing.

Then they figured a way to lock your computer and hold it ransom until you paid. Do not respond. Do not click where they say to click.

Here are some newer scams I got via email just yesterday.

Thank you for shopping at Walgreens. Let us reward you with this $50 voucher. Print your $50 gift card here.

Well, I do shop at Walgreens. Was this really from Walgreens? To be sure, check the email address carefully. walgreensrewardcards@playoname.win is not from Walgreens.

Here’s one from Amazon. But the address? Not Amazon. If I click on it, I get nothing. But they get all my personal info.

Oh, here’s a $50 Target card with an expiration date. I better click now. Or not.

And here’s a gift card from Sam’s Club and another from Costco. This must be my lucky day. I don’t belong to either of them.

Look at this one. UPS tried to deliver a package to me. But to get it, I have to click here. I’ll bet it’s a box full of money. I wonder when UPS started using this new website: wwwceforcivil@cpanel05.dnscpanel.com.

As you see, there’s a new kind of criminal out there. You have to be a tough guy to steal a purse or rob a bank. But the cyber criminal doesn’t have to use his muscle power or even leave his house. And he never has to look you in the face.

The internet makes it easier for cyber crooks from all over the world to steal everything you have. Money, identity, elections.

But we’re still left with the question of why. What’s the motivation? What makes a man wake up one morning and decide to steal from innocent people? Maybe you should ask Harvey Hambrose. If you can find him.

 

September 2017
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