CyberStalker Threat Online
Why Do Cyberstalkers Pick on Artists?
Twice I have been the victim of cyber stalkers. As an artist, I have put my portfolio and bio on several sites in order to find jobs. At first I thought this was a good idea, but since then, I have found it can be detrimental to my mental and possibly physical health.
One day I received an email from what I thought was a sweet old lady named Eve Johnson who was moving from London to the USA. She said that she had found my artwork online and wanted me to mail a few pieces to her new address. Of course I was very excited that someone wanted my artwork and we emailed back and forth for a few days as she made her selection of which art she wanted. She looked online at my site and would give me the description of the art she wanted.
Have you ever been the victim of fraud, a scam, phishing or other identity theft?
Eve was very cordial and several times she told me how much she liked my art and how excited she was that she would have it in her new home. She wanted me to box it up and she was willing to pay for the shipping, which would be quite a bit because of the size of the artpieces.
A few days later I received a check in the mail. It looked very legitimate and I was about to package up the artwork and send it to her new address so she would have it soon. I went to the bank to deposit the check, and they have a rule that the check must clear before they can release the money. I had enough to cover it so I was not too worried. However, I just had a feeling in my gut that something might be wrong.
I was about to spend my own money on sending the art pieces, but decided to hold off when I got another message saying that she wanted it urgently. It was a little out of character from the previous emails I had received. I got a little suspicious and waited a few days only to find that the check never cleared. I was shocked. She has seemed so kind and “real”. I never heard from her again.
I considered pursuing the person, because I did have an address, but any one could have created an email address and posed as someone else. Since I lived in Hawaii and the address I had was in the mainland, I decided it wouldn’t be worth it. I was just glad I followed my gut feeling.
I didn’t lose out on that one, but the next cyber stalker was a little bit scarier. I had signed up at guru.com as an artist seeking a job as freelancer. I uploaded some of my finished jobs and put up my profile and bio. One day, again by email, I received a message saying that a company had seen my portfolio on guru and they were considering me as a graphic artist for their company.
I was hopeful, and in a few days they offered me the job. They asked me to fill out a contract that they emailed to me, and asked that I fax it back with my signature (uh oh!). They had even listed how much I would be making and how many hours I would be expected to work. They agreed that I could work from home. They said they would arrange for their human resources office to contact me with all the particulars.
My husband went over all the papers they had sent by email, which included what looked like an official letter signed by an administrator on their company letterhead. He said he thought it looked legitimate. I waited and waited and waited for someone to contact me again. No one did. I received no further emails from any of the parties that had previously seemed so urgent about getting me started. I sent emails and got no replies. I finally called the number that was listed on the letterhead to find out what the delay was.
When I asked for the name of the person on the letter, they said they had no one there by that name. I asked for the name that was listed as working in human resources at the company and they said the same about that name – no person like that worked there. I finally asked for an administrator, and the person apologized by saying that I was not the first one that had been tricked into thinking they had a job at their company. They were doing an investigation. It is a very reputable company that most of you are very familiar with, which made it even more of a shock.
Why would people go out of their way to send bogus emails, contracts, and even job description, etc. which were not true? I thought about what I had given them that they could use. All of my personal information (address, phone number, social security number, signature) was there on the signed contract that I had faxed to them! I was appalled at the effort put forth to trick me into giving them my personal info. Luckily I had joined three different companies that were created to protect my identity. I contacted the companies that are there to protect my identity and informed them of the situation.
I learned that one of the most common ways thieves steal your identity is through information hacked from a legitimate business or website.
I learned my lesson. I am now very careful and suspicious about any email or phone call, and will delete faster than you can blink! I will also hang up the phone if I feel any uneasiness at all. It is not worth it. I have had nothing show up so far that indicated any wrongful use of my information, but what if I hadn’t had the protection?
I have had a couple of credit cards used by others that I had to close. The latest thing to happen to me was that I noticed a charge on my T-mobile bill for a Psychic Reader . I would never have signed up for that, so I don’t know how they got on my bill. I called right away to check on it.
Be careful out there!!