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CyberStalker Threat Online

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Ruth, a.k.a. Elayne Kongaika, was raised in the orchard town of Orem, Utah. She married a Polynesian and has had amazing travel experiences.

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.

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!!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Elayne

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Comments

Elayne (author) from Rocky Mountains on July 17, 2010:

Thanks peacefulparadox for your added advice which is very wise. Aloha!

peacefulparadox on July 17, 2010:

Thanks for pointing these things out. For those who work for themselves in their own homes (such as freelancers, writers, artists, etc), consider having a P.O. Box and a separate telephone line (like Skype or Google Voice) for your business. That way you keep your home address and number private.

Elayne (author) from Rocky Mountains on February 20, 2010:

Appreciate your comment Ghost32 - yes I have ignored my gut a few too many times. Better start listening!

Ghost32 on February 19, 2010:

To me, the best "hint" you provide in this hub is: Trust your gut! Mine has "failed" me on rare occasion (karma? stupidity?), but most of the time it's the first warning flag I get.

Elayne (author) from Rocky Mountains on January 02, 2010:

Your welcome RTalloni. Hope you avoid it. Aloha!

RTalloni on January 01, 2010:

Thanks very much for the info!

Elayne (author) from Rocky Mountains on December 07, 2009:

Thank you all for your comments. I hope it doesn't happen to do, but now you are aware.

Hebas on December 07, 2009:

Thanks for lightening our paths. Its always useful to learn from other peoples' experiences

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 06, 2009:

This is the second article I have read about cyber stalking and it is scary. I am sorry you had that experience and this article will sure make we wary of strangers. Thanks for this information.

motorolafans on December 05, 2009:

Great read and advice about being careful. I havent had to deal with this but i'll be more aware now for sure.

Elayne (author) from Rocky Mountains on December 03, 2009:

Thanks mortgagestar1 for the link and your comments. They are greatly appreciated.

Mortgagestar1 from Weirton,West Virginia on December 03, 2009:

I had more than one cyber stalker and its scary. The Federal Government has an entire division dedicated to tracking and prosecuting cyber stalkers.

http://www.fbi.gov/cyberinvest/cyberhome.htm

Elayne (author) from Rocky Mountains on December 03, 2009:

Thank you 2uesday for commenting. I hope it will help save at least someone from identity theft.

2uesday on December 03, 2009:

Good hub. Thank you for sharing this information, it helps to be reminded of the need to be wary in such situations.

Elayne (author) from Rocky Mountains on December 02, 2009:

Thanks for your concern PB_Smith. Yes, they are reputable and watching for any irregularities, thank goodness.

PB_Smith from Southern California on December 02, 2009:

Wow, your lucky they didn't go by a yacht using your ID. Hopefully nothing bad will turn up. Are the protection companies good and have they been able to track anything else?

Elayne (author) from Rocky Mountains on December 02, 2009:

thanks for your comments Naomi. It could have been a lot worse for sure.

Naomi R. Cox from Elberton, Georgia on December 02, 2009:

Thanks for sharing this hub, elayne. Everyone has to stay on their toes when it comes to the internet. There are some good people out there, but for the rest, they have made it their job to get other's information. Then they take that person for everything they have. Glad you had protection to keep you safe from their grubby little fingers.

Elayne (author) from Rocky Mountains on December 02, 2009:

We learn the most from our bad experiences. Hopefully we can all be vigilant in keeping our info safe. Thanks for all the comments.

Rachaelle Lynn from Gainesville, Florida on December 02, 2009:

Wow, so sorry you had to go through all this, but I really appreciate you sharing so we can all be extra-careful. Very informative and well-written article.

DeeBee3 from United Kingdom on December 02, 2009:

Great hub,sorry you had to find this all out the hard way. Unfortunately, this is the way of the world these days.

Thanks for sharing it with us all.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on December 02, 2009:

I am very worried about my identity because I signed up with a number of 'survey' and they all request all your details promising protection. All those 'surveys' and they were big ones turned out to be useless. Now I am getting numbers of offers of all sorts. Thank you for drawing attention to scams and I am sure they gather like pigeon onto the internet. I am sorry for your deappointments. I know how it feels.

TrudyVan Curre from South Africa on December 02, 2009:

What a world we live in? It happens so much Thank you so much for sharing. I enjoyed the video

Jake on December 01, 2009:

crazy! Great read and advice about being careful. I haven't had to deal with this but i'll be more aware now for sure.

Jake on December 01, 2009:

crazy! Great read and advice about being careful. I haven't had to deal with this but i'll be more aware now for sure.

Elayne (author) from Rocky Mountains on December 01, 2009:

Thanks to all for the comments. We can never be too careful! Aloha!

Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on December 01, 2009:

Thanks for this Hub, elayne-I once thought my identity was being stolen and went to great lengths to identify the perpetrator. It turned out to be my teenaged son ripping me off. This was many years ago, and he is now a responsible young man who regrets this, but one never knows.

isi on December 01, 2009:

Good on you.

LianaK on December 01, 2009:

Scary! So glad you have identity protection. Can't believe how rampant identity theft is becoming. My sister in law's husband recently had his identity stolen. He was trying to refinance his house. Think of all that personal information!!!

Great hub. I will be more cautious.

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