Late last night I discovered I had been hacked. My debit/credit card information was stolen and two Western Union Transactions for $112 each had been made from my account. It was a total of $224 and was all the money I had for Christmas shopping.
Today, from the moment the alarm clock went off, I was on the phone. I called NSA, FTC, local police department, FBI, my bank – it was actually first – and as many other people as I could locate numbers for to report what had happened. What happened?
On Friday, December 14, 2012 I received a call from a Washington state area code. The person on the other end was a man with a very thick Indian accent. This sent up red flags immediately. When I said I couldn’t understand him he said, very carefully, as if he had to concentrate very hard, “Please, one moment.” Within seconds another man, again with an India accent was on the line, but I could understand him.
He began with, “Hello, my name is Jordan and I am calling from a Microsoft service center.” Another red flag popped up. “As you may have read, Microsoft is working with the NSA to help locate possible terrorist organizations. We do this through ping backs and other means. Microsoft has been receiving odd error reports from your computer. This is a courtesy call to inform you your computer is currently remotely controlled by the NSA.” I checked on my computer and it was being remotely accessed. Someone was going through the computer and doing a lot of cleaning and organizing of the common files and spent a few moments in the cookies.
“Please don’t be alarmed,” this second man said, “this will only take a few moments and then the scan of your computer will be completed and once again under your control.” Jordon asked me questions about whether or not I had been receiving any unknown, Arabic spam e-mail, of course I had. Many people have received spam in Arabic script locally. He asked if I had noticed a difference in how my computer was acting differently, slower” etc. I answered him that it wasn’t.
The remote access stopped on my computer and Jordan thanked me very much for my cooperation and said they hoped they had not taken up very much of my time and to have “A wonderful holiday!”
When I discovered the two Western Union transactions everything fell into place. I felt dumb for having fallen for it, and replayed it several times in my head, but I could not tell, at any point during this 20-30 minute conversation of red flags other than the ones I have mentioned. Still, I just can’t help but feeling violated.
I am good with my computer. I am tech savy, and though I am not a major hard tech person, I have protected my computer and my husband’s computer for years without anything like this happening. All I can say is – they got me, and they got me good.
From the information I gathered today, even from the local computer forensics department at the police station, I had done everything I needed to do in order to protect myself. \
- I went through every program on the computer and sub-programs with a fine tooth comb and located the remote access program that had been downloaded to my machine and removed it and all of its little bitty parts.
- I updated all of my virus, malware, spyware, and firewall software.
- Immediately after that I ran a virus scan of my entire computer and external hard drive, as well as any other drives on my computer. The scan came back negative.
- Next was the malware scan. It was surprising to see I did not have a lot of malware on the machine.
- The spyware program was long. There were 3 pages of spyware ‘tags’ removed.
- Finally was CCleaner™. I used it to completely do a quick cleaning of my cookies, browsing information and search sites. Nothing stood out there.
- The very last thing I did was run a direct word scan for several different words to do with banks and bank accounts, etc., and came up clean on my machine.
The computer forensics person assured me I had done a good job and told me this sort of scam was growing in number in the Central Kentucky area, especially in Fayette County. Sometimes it is the FBI and some other agency, or just straight up Microsoft. A lot of folks don’t fall for the solo Microsoft gig, but some do.
Also in all of my calling, I was asked if my wallet with all of my information was anywhere near the computer at the time. It was – it was right in front of the keyboard because I was getting ready to make an Amazon order for Christmas presents. I was told the readers for obtaining your RFD information only need to be within 3 feet of you and that there was a new way of obtaining the RFD over the telephone lines. It wasn’t explained further how it could do it, but this sent me to the computer researching.
I didn’t find out anything hard about this sort of technology, but that it had been rumored to exist for a few months now. It is supposedly expensive technology and isn’t easy to get hold of.
After having a hearty cry by myself and then playing Halo 4 for a couple of hours I…didn’t feel better. I can still go Christmas shopping – it just won’t be without a close eye to what is chosen, though – and the world will keep spinning. My computer world is as safe as I can make it, and my husband and friends are standing by me – though a couple of friends practically laughed at me and told me I had been too gullible (I’m being polite with this paraphrasing); and a couple have told me point me that it couldn’t happen like that because there wasn’t technology out that could do that.
Anything is possible. When you really get down to looking at our world and the intelligence of the human race currently, this is very possible.
I am not going to argue with them. They are friends and they are sorry money was taken from me under fraudulent means, but sometimes, like many people these days; they have to close their minds to possibilities of what could be out there. I am not a conspiracy theorist per se, but there are things the governments of the world have access to – scientific advancements, medical advancements, transportation advancements, etc. – the common people do not. The reason it is kept so closely guarded is because it matters to the security of the nation if a car can indeed run the way it is needed on electricity or that there really has been a cure for cancer but helping people would somehow endanger the country…. Maybe these ideas are just nothing more than imaginative thinking, but What if they are not?
Anywho…. I just wanted to catch you all up on what has been happening and explain why Part X1 of “A Story of Emily Post” is not up today. It is coming. The writing is keeping me sane through all of this. It will be up by no later than 8:00 AM Monday, December 24.
The next scheduled posting of “A Story of Emily Post” is on January 4th because of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Other posts will be appearing, of course, while Emily is having her own little respite from death threats and almost-reckless behavior!
- CIA-Sponsored Trolls Monitor Internet & Interact With Users to Discredit Factual Information (willyloman.wordpress.com)
- How to Use Emsisoft Anti-Malware to Protect Your Computer From Threats (vikitech.com)
- A new brand of cyber security: hacking the hackers (powersthatbeat.wordpress.com)
- Common Malware Types: Cybersecurity 101 (veracode.com)
- Online Security Basics for Small Business Websites (cio.com)
- Online Security Basics for Small Business Websites (computerworld.co.nz)