This is a frightening but true story. I’ve changed the names a bit and the locales so as not to perpetuate the situation, which is, bad.
I was on a forum with people from all over the world. There was a user, who used her full name. For this article I will call her Carleen Openess. She posted her address, I’ll make up, 123 Green Street, Orlando, Florida.
Others warned her of the danger and she replied:
“Why should I hide my identity? This is me. This is my photograh, this is my name. Bad people can find us anyway if they want, so why should I call myself Cinderella? And lie about where I live?”
No matter how other users tried to dissuade her, posting intelligently about the dangers, the scams that could be run, she refused to change. She began to post all sorts of cyber slop and said that nothing is private on the Internet.
Another user appeared. She called herself (this is another invented name) Shirley Sayso, who claims to live in Wilmington, Delaware. She agrees with Carleen.
Trying to push a little light into their darkness I did a Zaba Search. These kinds of searches expose the actual street address, the phone numbers.
To them it is a shrug.
Shirley is posting her age, her martial status, her children’s names, and it seems more than clear she is making herself more of a victim than Carlene.
For Carlene, is not Carlene. The real Carleen is not on the Internet. Two years ago, she was placed in a nursing home. Where she had lived, the address ‘she’ gave is being used by a man, a thirty eight year old man.
This man has joined all sorts of sites using Carlene’s name. Using her photo and information. This is because he is a certain kind of criminal. The kind that searches for elderly women, checking out their accounts on various servers. (He once worked for a particular Internet provider). He finds inactive accounts, and does his searches. He looks for those like Carlene.
He knows a bit about hacking.
He goes on the Internet as Carlene, and looks for women, like Shirley. Women who will be made to believe she is communicating with someone just like her.
This criminal goes to Wilmington, Delaware when he knows Shirley is visiting her daughter. He knows she puts the spare key under the rug. He enters Shirley’s apartment, takes what he wants, and leaves. Replacing the key.
Shirley is not his only victim.
He has done this for years. He enters, he takes, he sells what he has taken in other states. He has been doing this for years.
When Shirley returns from her visit she will find her apartment has been burgled. Maybe not at first, because it looks the way she left it. Perhaps her computer is gone, perhaps not, if it is a big clumsy desk top. Her television, unless it is a small flat screen won’t be touched.
Her good jewelry, her money, any easy to pick up item, will be gone. Shirley might not check her jewelry for a week, maybe two.
As crimes go, this one is not as bad, as those where fools post pictures of their children or grandchildren, the names of the schools they attend. Any pervert can know enough about the child to abduct them.
The ugly reality is that although you may be sitting nice and toasty in your comfort zone, typing on your keyboard, thinking you are communicating with ‘Carlene’ you may in fact be communicating with a criminal who is running his scheme.
If one goes back, and sees how it all began; it was ‘Carlene’ who did the ‘show and tell’. It was Shirley who joined her. This is the scam ‘Carlene’ runs. It is bad, but not as bad as when parents and grandparents expose their children and grand children to every pederast on the Internet.
I have always said this; unless you eat lunch with those you communicate with, don’t be too trusting, too open or expose yourself, your family to people who may claim they are ‘Carlene’ but are really a criminal.
You can’t know for a fact who you are talking with. That is a photograph. It could be of anyone. Just because ‘Carlene’ says it is her does not mean it is.
Don’t share your personal details even if another person does it. For that other person might be lying.