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Internet Warnings to All / Be safe

Discussion in 'Forum Policies' started by spring, Dec 5, 2004.

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  1. spring

    spring Administrator

    This is mainly a warning about IMs and emails, but it applies to giving out your personal info anywhere on the internet...including message boards such as this one.

    I am posting a couple true stories (not my own) to stress the importance and seriousness of what could happen if you become lax and aren't careful about giving out too much personal info via instant messaging, on a public message board, or in an email or become too trusting with someone you don't know well...

    It's a shame that things have to be this way, but in this world of freaks, perverts, and wierdos....well, ya can't be too careful.
    The words below were sent to me by a friend via email. This is NOT my personal experience as some thought. I am merely repeating what I think is something very useful and important to know about.

    Before this, I had no idea what the BCC on emails was actually used for....please read....this is verbatim except for names and locations that I deleted for privacy/safety concerns.

    Some of you are probably already doing this (using bcc), but some people may still be sending/receiving emails with all of the addresses showing for everyone to see.

    Please Read This All The Way Through

    Late one evening, while online, I received an IM (Internet Instant message) from a gentleman who said he knew me through mutual pals online. We chatted for an hour or so before deciding to keep in touch, as we had so many things in common.

    Eventually after a week or so of knowing him, I trusted him with my name(first name) and phone number. After all, he knew my friends and I felt he must have been okay if they all liked and knew him. He knew a lot about them; he knew a lot about me, and he knew a lot about a lot! He seemed like such a nice person, a pleasant person, and someone whom I felt very comfortable sharing my time online (and on the phone) with.

    One night, a friend from our group of friends invited me to a Chat Room where several of the friends had gathered and were chatting when this gentleman popped into the Chat Room. He popped in and then left quickly.

    Then, for the first time since I met and started chatting with him, I mentioned him to one of the friends who was in the Chat Room, one whom this gentleman claimed an association with. She was in total awe, she did not know who he was! Things were beginning to look really suspicious. The more she and I chatted, the more suspicious it became. It also became apparent that this guy knew none of us.

    Suddenly, he disappeared off-line for a few days, then one day he pops back in and sends me an IM saying that we need to talk. He called me at my home and I was very upset, so I asked him how he really found me and why he had felt the need to lie in the first place.

    ***Please pay attention to this:***

    He told me that he spotted my screen name on a "Forward" that one of my friends had sent to someone else. My screen name is what attracted him. He then used the screen name of others on the list of forwards to acquaint himself with me and various others from our clique of friends. He also used the Member Directory (at AOL) to look up info about others on the list of forwards, so as not to look suspicious. He said he felt it was the only way he would have the chance to get to know me, and the main attraction to me was "My Screen name" because he thought it was "sexy". I was upset, needless to say, as I had trusted this man with my personal info, such as phone number and name. He also knew where I lived (thanks to the phone bill) and I was now his prey.

    A few days after having last talked to this person and thinking that was the last of him, I received a phone call at 4:00 AM. It was this man telling me he was in town to see a friend who lived 20 minutes from my house, and wanted to know if I would like to meet him for coffee or breakfast. When I told him it was not such a good idea, he became irate and hung up on me.

    I immediately called him back (caller ID) and explained to him that my husband was back home (trying to scare him) and please not be so mad (in fear of him and what he might do). Telling him that my husband had returned and we were reconciling was a lie, and I told him this to make him think I was not alone.

    Imagine the feeling I felt in the pit of my stomach when he came back with the following response - - "You're a lying *****, your husband is not there with you -- you are alone!"
    (continued next post)
  2. spring

    spring Administrator

    I hung up on him and immediately called the County Sheriff's office and told them what had happened. They sent an officer over to take a report and said that was really all they could do for me at that time. So, I packed a few belongings into my car and drove to my sister's home for the night.

    Fifteen or twenty minutes after I arrived at her home, I received a phone call from this man again. He knew that I had called the Sheriff and reported him; he knew where I was and he knew my sister and her husband's names.

    This man had been stalking me for weeks and I had no idea.
    I walked, ate, slept and breathed in constant fear until he was finally arrested for stalking -- Not for stalking me. Nope -- for stalking another lady who lived in my same state.

    I wanted to share this with you all.

    And yes, it is all true.

    Friends, when you forward things and you leave your friends' names out in plain view like that, you are putting them and yourself in what could be grave danger.

    I hope I have gotten this message across. I have not even begun to mention his assault charges the detectives from the county and the state uncovered on him while investigating his prior history(rape,using deadly force).

    People, please -- Be safe, be careful and use Blind Carbon Copy (BCC).

    Please Remember: It is Important to remove all personal email addresses when forwarding items from emails.

    Many of us have a great deal of information in our email signature files that appear at the bottom of many of our messages.

    In addition, the blind carbon copy (Bcc) option makes the individuals you send email to unseen by all other recipients.

    E-mailers should also cut out ALL email addresses from "Fwd's" when forwarding the message on.

    You may have received unsolicited emails from individuals who have retrieved your email address via a forwarded message from a group.



    Do you wonder why you get viruses or junk mail? Do you hate it?

    Every time you forward an e-mail there is information left over from the people that received the message before you -- namely their e-mail addresses. As the messages get forwarded along, the list of addresses builds, and builds, and builds, and all it takes is for some person to get a virus and his/her computer can send that virus to every e-mail address that has come across their computer.

    Someone can also take all of those addresses and sell them or send junk mail to them in the hopes that you will go to the site and he will make five cents. That's right, all of that inconvenience over a nickel.

    How do you stop it?

    Well, there are two easy steps:

    1) When you forward an email: DELETE all of the other addresses that appear in the body of the message. Highlight them, right click and click delete; backspace them - whatever it is you know how to do.

    It only takes a second.

    2) Whenever you send an e-mail, don't use the "To:" or "CC:" Use only the "Bcc:" (Blind Carbon Copy) for sending the message.

    Click on the little address book beside "To" to "select recipients" but put the recipients in the "Bcc" box instead of the "To" box.

    That's it - it's that easy - Even if you are already using BCC, you no doubt have friends who need this information to understand the importance of using ONLY Bcc.
  3. spring

    spring Administrator

    Here's another true story(not mine). Names of course have been changed.

    A Warning for Kids:

    Shannon could hear the footsteps behind her as she walked toward home. The thought of being followed made her heartbeat faster.

    "You're being silly," she told herself, "no one is following you."
    To be safe, she began to walk faster, but the footsteps kept up with her pace. She was afraid to look back and she was glad she was almost home.
    Shannon said a quick prayer,"God please get me home safe."
    She saw the porch light burning and ran the rest of the way to her house.
    Once inside, she leaned against the door for a moment, relieved to be in the safety of her home.
    She glanced out the window to see if anyone was there. The sidewalk was empty.
    After tossing her books on the sofa, she decided to grab a snack and get on-line.

    She logged on under her screen name ByAngel213. She checked her Buddy List and saw GoTo123 was on.
    She sent him an instant message:

    ByAngel213: Hi I'm glad you are on! I thought someone was following me home today. It was really weird!

    GoTo123: LOL You watch too much TV. Why would someone be following you? Don't you live in a safe neighborhood?

    ByAngel213: Of course I do. LOL I guess it was my imagination cuz' I didn't see anybody when I looked out.

    GoTo123: Unless you gave your name out on-line. You haven't done that have you?

    ByAngel213: Of course not. I'm not stupid you know.

    GoTo123: Did you have a softball game after school today?

    ByAngel213: Yes and we won!!

    GoTo123: That's great! Who did you play?

    ByAngel213: We played the Hornets. LOL. Their uniforms are so gross! They look like bees. LOL

    GoTo123: What is your team called?

    ByAngel213: We are the Canton Cats. We have tigerpaws on our uniforms. They are really kewl.

    GoTo123: Did you pitch?

    ByAngel213: No, I play second base. I got to go. My homework has to be done before my parents get home. I don't want them mad at me. Bye!

    GoTo123: Catch you later. Bye

    Meanwhile...... GoTo123 went to the member menu and began to search for her profile. When it came up, he highlighted it and printed it out.

    He took out a pen and began to write down what he knew about Angel so far.
    Her name:Shannon
    Birthday: Jan. 3, 1985
    State where she lived:North Carolina
    Hobbies: softball, choir, skating, and going to the mall.
    Besides this information, he knew she lived in Canton because she had just told him.
    He knew she stayed by herself until 6:30 p.m. every afternoon until her parents came home from work.
    He knew she played softball on Thursday afternoons on the school team, and the team was named the Canton Cats.
    Her favorite number 7 was printed on her jersey.
    He knew she was in the seventh grade at the Canton Junior High School.

    She had told him all of this in the
    conversations they had on-line.

    He had enough information to find her now.

    Shannon didn't tell her parents about the incident on the way home from the ball park that day.
    She didn't want them to make a scene and stop her from walking home from the softball games.
    Parents were always over-reacting and hers were the worst.
    It made her wish she was not an only child.
    Maybe if she had brothers and sisters, her parents wouldn't be so over-protective.

    By Thursday, Shannon had forgotten about the footsteps following her.
    Her game was in full swing when suddenly she felt someone staring at her.
    It was then that the memory came back.

    She glanced up from her second base position to see a man watching her closely.
    He was leaning against the fence behind first base and he smiled when she looked at him. He didn't look scary and she quickly dismissed the fear she had felt.

    After the game, he sat on a bleacher while she talked to the coach.
    She noticed his smile once again as she walked past him. He nodded and she smiled back.

    He noticed her name on the back of her shirt and he knew he had found her.
    Quietly, he walked a safe distance behind her.

    It was only a few blocks to Shannon's home, and once he saw where she lived he quickly returned to the park to get his car. Now he had to wait...

    (continued next post)
  4. spring

    spring Administrator

    He decided to get a bite to eat until the time came to go to Shannon's house.
    He drove to a fast food restaurant and sat there until time to make his move.

    Shannon was in her room later that evening when she heard voices in the living room. "Shannon, come here," her father called.
    He sounded upset and she couldn't imagine why. She went into the room to see the man from the ballpark sitting on the sofa.

    "Sit down," her father began, "this man has just told us a most interesting story about you."
    Shannon moved cautiously to a chair across from the man.
    How could he tell her parents anything? She had never seen him before today!

    "Do you know who I am Shannon?" the man asked.
    "No,"Shannon answered.

    "I am a police officer and your online friend,GoTo123."

    Shannon was stunned. "That's impossible! GoTo is a kid my age! He's 14 and he lives in Michigan!"
    The man smiled. "I know I told you all that, but it wasn't true. You see, Shannon, there are people on-line who pretend to be kids; I was one of them.
    But while others do it to find kids and hurt them, I belong to a group of parents who do it to protect kids from predators. I came here to find you to teach you how dangerous it is to give out too much information to people on-line. You told me enough about yourself to make it easy for me to find you, your name, the school you went to, the name of your ball team and the position you played. The number and name on your jersey just made finding you a breeze."

    Shannon was stunned. "You mean you don't live in Michigan?"
    He laughed. "No, I live in Raleigh. It made you feel safe to think I was so far away, didn't it?" She nodded.

    "I had a friend whose daughter was like you, only she wasn't as lucky. The guy found her and murdered her while she was home alone.

    Kids are taught not to tell anyone when they are alone, yet they do it all the time on-line.
    The wrong people trick you into giving out information a little here and there on-line. Before you know it, you have told them enough for them to find you without even realizing you have done it. I hope you've learned a lesson from this and won't do it again."

    "I won't," Shannon promised solemly.

    "Will you tell others about this so they will be safe too?" the man asked.

    "It's a promise!" Shannon told him.

    That night Shannon and her dad and Mom all knelt down together and prayed.
    They thanked God for protecting Shannon from what could have been a tragic situation.

    This world we live in today is too dangerous to even give out your age, let alone anything else.

    Maybe all of you reading this thread are smart enough to know not to do any of these things.
    But, unfortuantely folks, "I" was not one of them......I didnt experience anything as drastic as in the two stories above, but I was at one time too trusting and gave out personal info to someone I thought I had gotten to know pretty well over the net.

    It had to do with the virus (trojan) that infected my computer and caused me hell, but nothing to the extent of what happened to that girl in the first story. It worked out okay in the end. I was a lucky one.

    Don't learn it the hard way....Be Safe.
  5. spring

    spring Administrator

    I received some emails from people who thought that happened to me in the first story.

    Just to clarify...Those stories were NOT MINE. They were sent to me via email from someone else. I posted it to let people know about using bcc when forwarding.

    It had nothing to do with this board. In fact, I never did find out what board it was. I'm not sure if it was even a recovery board.
  6. vicodinESaddict

    vicodinESaddict Well-Known Member

    Oh thanks for all of this info! This happened to me 5 yrs ago. I would like to share my story, if that's okay.

    A little background info.

    I was recently divorced, living on my own, going to college for the first time and had a 2 yr old daughter. I was 23. I got a computer mainly for research and typing papers for school. I got the internet, did not know crap about it, got an email account, etc.

    Okay so I ventured into msn chat rooms eventually for fun. This was back when msn chat was free. God I was sooooo naive thinking back, I'll tell you why...

    I was young and impressionable and very vulnerable having just come from a bad marriage, nasty divorce and first time ever single mother living alone.
    I met alot of people online and alot of them were men. I guess I liked the attention I was getting....anyway.

    I met a guy that lived in Texas. We chatted for a few weeks. I lived 2 states away from him. Quite a distance, I thought.
    He knew my first and last name. And....the only info I gave him besides my name (my phone number was unlisted and so was my address) was the town I lived in, that I was a student and I lived across from the college.
    I think I told him what kind of car I drove. That is ALL I told him. This is what that freak did...

    Okay, I also lived in a town with only 1 college. The population of the town was 26,000. Not big.
    So he calls me one day and says he has to be in Oklahoma for some business meeting. He also says he wanted to get a rental car and drive from Tulsa to my town and meet me. It was 5 hrs away. I declined. I was NOT wanting to meet him.

    Although I had spoken to him many times via email, I had no desire to meet this guy. He was angry, I could tell that I did not want to meet him, that is where I started getting this feeling. Pit in my stomach kind of feeling. Like I had done something very wrong.

    All of a sudden, I didnt feel safe. But, I let it slide.

    The next night, I was home, it was dark. It was winter. Freakorama knocks on my door!!! I also lived in an apartment with a buzzer at the front door. So, you either need a key to get in the main entrance or someone has to buzz you in. Freako got in somehow. I still dont know how, I assume he waited for someone to get in and slid right in.

    He also knew what I looked like, and I knew what he looked like, we had exchanged pics. So, I peered thru the peephole and knew it was him. My heart started pounding. Scared the death out of me. I pretended I wasnt home.

    That is when he started saying things like "maggie I know you're home, I see ur car"...plus, my tv set was on as I was not expecting him. So...finally I said something like "go away, leave me alone" but I was scared as hell.

    Freako also had a dozon roses. He pretended to leave, I watched him thru the peephole. He walked funny, I remember that. He had a peculiar way of carrying himself. I have never been more scared in my life.
    I had a TWO year old little girl that I loved! So...I finally called the police and they showed up and he was still at my door. He kept pretending to leave and he would be silent for awhile, walk down the hall, then come back. He would NOT leave me alone.

    The cops show up, tell him to leave. He tried to argue with them! He told them he knew me, etc...he left though. He had no choice. He was on private property, and it wasnt his. So, when he left, I let in the police. I told them everything.

    Then I got a talk about how I should never have given out the info I did. I thought it was harmless. But, based on what I gave him, anyone could have found me! Lived across college campus? Well there is an open field across the school I went to, with ONE apt complex!

    DOH...I feel so stupid now, but this was 5 yrs ago. I have learned alot since then.
    Anyway, freako emails me the next day! He just did not give up. Finally I threatened him with a restraining order, etc if he didnt leave me alone. I never heard from him again after the next day.
    I couldnt sleep the night this happened. But, I also did not want to tell anyone like my parents who lived in the same town.

    I was ashamed and embarrassed I let some stranger in my life like that.
    Freak could have raped and murdered me!! He could have harmed my child!! I learned a valuable lesson then.
    Fast forward 5 yrs.
    Married now, have 3 kids now, live 1200 miles away from where this all happened. Heck, I even have a different last name now!
    Anyway, please dont ever fall prey to people online. Spring had great stories too. Its so easy for these predators to fine young, vulnerable women, like I was.
    Dont give out ANY info, no matter how vague it seems. These people have their ways of finding out more!
    Your ISP can even give out tons of info, and from what I know, anyone can get your ISP if you IM with them.
    Okay, I'll wrap this up.
    If by sharing my story I have helped one person, I would be happy. I hope that my experience becomes valuable to another....so that people learn from mistakes like mine. Hugs , Mags

  7. spring

    spring Administrator

    Thank you Maggie for sharing your story. It sent chills down my spine.
    When I think of how many young girls, my daughter included, so naive and trusting, give out info to someone online, thinking that they may have met "him", that special someone......scares me to death for their safety.

    I really appreciate you taking the time to share your story. No doubt, you have helped someone understand the importance of keeping private info private.
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