Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hit the Road, Jack! (II)

That's right, boys and girls, Jack's back!

Can you believe it!!!!? I thought for sure this dude was toast. In fact, I know several associated dudes were, in fact, toasted. Inevitably, though, the weeds spring up even through an asphalt paved surface. Just look at my driveway.

Minding my own business yesterday and thinking of things more work-like such as "OMG!" and "How in the you-know-what are we EVER going to get that done??!?" I absent-mindedly heard my Yahoo! IM kerplunk in the background and low-and-behold there was yet another Jackley Smith David 419er that had yet to get the message. And I quote (his grammar, his syntax):

"Hello honey, how are u? I know all is wel with u, is it bcos of the money i asked 4, ok 4get about de money n come 4 me. i luv u so much."

At first glance, I hope you laughed and said to yourself, "Self, this is so lame!" Having done my research and having let my fingers do the walking months ago, I knew it to be lame. I also know this to be a different Jackley Smith David, but how I come by that information really isn't pertinent or exciting. So here is mystery stalker number, what, two, three, four? At least three, but probably four asking me to forget about the money he asked me for and instead requesting me to fly to Lagos, Nigeria. This person is OUT OF HIS TREE! There is no frickin' way! I could have sent four times the amount he requested for the cost of a single plane ticket!!!! Not to mention the fact that any person (let alone a short, crazy woman) would have to be nuts or desperate to fly all that way into a dangerous country to meet some person they don't even know!!!!!

Still, I write this for one reason. And it isn't the reason you think. Hop on the internet. Do a little research on 419 scams. Read the eventual outcome for the (mostly) women who find some bond with these criminals and in the end are kidnapped, tortured, and eventually mutilated and killed. Don't tell yourself it'll never happen to you. In our present technological age, we meet people all the time without a single method of verifying that they are who they say they are. We use our real names. We use our real home towns. We use pictures of our families and children. Our public information is there for anyone to pick through and find.

I haven't personally had a run-in like this before. I do have a besotted 19yr old on MySpace who swears that an "older woman" like me is exactly what he needs. Guess he thinks he can just drive here conveniently whenever he wants to from North Carolina? Keeps sending me shots of his buff upper bod. Sad. Great upper body...the head doesn't seem to screwed on well, though.

There are some, though, who truly believe that these 419ers need help. Money or tickets or something....and unfortunately all they get out of the deal is more bribery, danger, and in some cases violence.

The real reason I write blogs like this is for those of you out there who DO have your hearts and minds in the right place and want to help those in need, to trust those you meet, to give freely of what you have, and to share your lives with others. Still others of you may just be in desperate need of someone to share a few moments with or deeper still, someone to love. To you, I say with all sincerity that those are all wonderful things to want. But, please, guard your heart, your mind, your life, and your loved ones. Be careful! Know what you're getting into.

Here are some guidelines I use to keep myself safe. These are by NO MEANS guaranteed to keep you perfectly safe!!!!! I am not a law enforcement agent nor am I educated or licensed to advise you on legal matters.

1. Don't use your real name or the real names of your family members when on the internet for chatting or MySpace, CafeMom, etc. Many people use their real names for Facebook without difficulty and if you choose to do that, restrict your other info and do not connect it to any other chat or dating accounts.

2. Don't use your real physical address. Can you say Yahoo! Maps? Now if you live "near Houston" like me...the odds are pretty good no one is going to find you.

3. Don't use your real telephone. Yes, this includes cells. This info is traceable.

4. If you get in touch with an old friend or family member and wish to give them your personal information, do it in a private email from your email address, not a private message on a chat service or as a post or status message on a chat service.

5. If you meet someone that you would like to get to know better, BE CAREFUL. Go slowly. Restrict your chats to the computer or a cell phone for quite some time. Ask for verifiable information. A copy of their driver license by fax or scanned image is a good start. Any non-criminal won't mind. Passport, too, if they have one. If they ask for your phone #, get their's too. If they want to meet, do not disclose your home address. Meet them at a common and well-trafficked location like Starbucks or Barnes&Noble for a short meeting. Keep your meetings short and public and with others for some time until you are comfortable. Then maybe one on one still at a crowded public venue. When you feel you are comfortable with them meeting you at your home, have other guests, too! The key is to NEVER be alone with the other person until you know them well. Or, as well as possible. ALWAYS tell someone when you are going out and where and when you expect to return.

6. Remember the copies of the DL and Passport? Use an online service or PI and for about $40+ bucks you can have them check the other person's records before things get too serious.

Be safe, please! (But still, have fun!!!)


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