Saturday, March 18, 2017

Identity Thief Assumes Another's Facebook Profile.

I hate to break it to J (Ladejobi), but I don't really have any cash to send to identity thieves; I don't really have enough to send to myself, so I'll be glad to send you this stock photograph. Maybe we can both wish together.

If you're a facebook user, how often have you gotten a friend request from a stranger? How about a friend of a friend you don't know, a "mutual friend"? I get a lot. Most of them post selfies of beautiful young women with wardrobe malfunctions, and their small stable of friends happens to boast all men. I've gotten quite good at using that little "delete request" button.

Today, on this beautiful spring Saturday morning with bright sunshine and yellow daffodils (I really should be doing yard work right now), I shuffled out to my lap top to check e-mails and facebook messages. I see the little red number indicating today's friend requests, and my automatic question is how many of these requests will survive my delete button. Instead of the usual number of buxom beauties (I quickly check the number of their friends to give me the first clue whether it's a real profile or not, but the buxom beauty usually gives it away from the start. If I happen to be number three or four of their entire stable of friends, that's a good indicator of a phony profile, but, come on! A twenty-something model wanting my friendship? I quickly check my wallet and shake my head. Nope.), I find a photo of a sweet looking grandmother type who happens to be the friend of a friend. My automatic assumption is she's someone who has read my comments on Magna history or one of my novels. 

Just as my finger is on the "confirm" button I notice the number of her friends. I'm number three. I withdraw my finger from the "confirm" button. Instead, I decide not to delete the request right off, but to have some fun. So I message the little old grandmother--I hate identity theft and the people who commit it. I hope you'll get the same awful enjoyment from this as I did, so I'll stay in on this beautiful spring morning to write this blog just for you.

To protect the innocent, I'll abbreviate names. The person sending me the friend request had robbed the identity of "J." Our mutual friend is "L.W."

Here is the conversation that followed:

Me:     Hello. Tell me about you.

J:     hello how are you doing thanks for the acceptance i think this request don't sound rude to you yeah i was recently introduce to facbook by friend and i was trying to search for an old lost school friend so you page show on my profile wish i read and find interesting and i try to add you up If i must confess, work has prevented me from socializing. I was recently introduced to Facebook by a friend to curb that. I really don't mind being your friend and knowing you more. if you feel the same way about my profile too,anyway if you wouldnt mind me asking tell me something about yourself.

And since when have been on Facebook page great things have to me on it.
Hope you have heard about the Home Care Service Grant program going on now?

Me:     I see you have L.W.  on there. You must have gone to Alta high school and grown up in St George.
L.W. did not go to Alta high school or grow up in St. George. Alta high school is not in St. George.

J:     Yes

Me: How's L.W. doing these days? When will she get back from Germany?
L.W. is not in Germany.

J:     She is doing good Am talking to her now to know when she is getting but haven't reply me.

Me:     Ask her how Berlin was. I loved it there.

J:     Okay Hope you have also heard about the Home Care Service Grant program going on now?

Me:     Are you from her high school class in Alta? You might be a grade younger.

J:    Yes..........I was just wondering if you have heard about the current program going on now?

Me:     Looks like a great program to donate to. I donate millions to charities. I live in Las Vegas right now. How can I help you. Are you still there? Gotta run now.
I'm having trouble not laughing out loud. People are still asleep in my little humble home in Magna. By now I have contacted L.W. to tell her the new J profile is a fraud. I also notified facebook.
J:    Yes I need assistant from you

Me:     How may I "assistant" you?

J:     I need $ to maintain my condition of living.

Me:     Where are you living these days? Alta?

J: in south carolina now I rent a house am living here So i need your assistant to settle my bills for the house rent and some other things. Are you there?
At this point I find the real profile for J. The real J is a retired mathematics professor who had taught at the University of South Carolina - Columbia. 
Me:     How could you have fallen on hard times? You were the great mathematics professor at South Carolina State.
South Carolina State is a different university. 

J:     Yes There is alot to say all things just change and getting bad suddenly So that is why am looking for assistant that someone like you can help me.

Me:     Was it the hurricane? Or the earthquake? Is your house all right?

J:     Is the earthquake Can you please render a little assistant now?
South Carolina isn't known for big earthquakes.
Me:     I'm writing a check for $10,000.00 right now. Do I send it to your old address? 

J:     No 

Me:     I can send it to your box at the university. I still have your address there. Mark can receive it.
I just made up mark on the fly. 

J:     No

Me:     I'll call Mark right now. I'm getting the phone. He'll be devastated to know your situation.

J:     No don't call Mark right now

Me:     He'll donate too. 

J:    Let me send you the address to deposit me the money.

Me:     My publisher will be interested in your story. The great mathematics professor suffers financial tragedy in the South Carolina earthquake.

J:     I don't want Mark and others to know about my situations now.

Me:     They must! We can pool the money. So what address do you want the money sent to. My publisher can donate another $10,000.00. 

J:     I need an Itunes Card first Send me an Itunes Card $500

Me:     To what address?

J:     You just get to any store and get me the Itunes Card of $500 and snap it and you send me the picture.

Me:     I don't carry a phone for public reasons. Only the publisher has my phone number. I should get you in contact with my agent and lawyer. They can help you if you want Itunes.
Please tell me where you are staying. I can have a check sent priority mail.

J:     Ok Let me have it

Me:     Please send me your address. I'm assuming you're with your son if your house was destroyed in the earthquake. I'll send it to him. He can get it to you. My wife is preparing the envelope. All we need is your address. 

J:    You have to send it to me through Western Union store or Money gram store Send me the picture of the envelope and money for proof

Me:     How? I don't use a cell phone. I can call my lawyer to help you. He can use his camera. He also has a computer forensics department to help me locate your IP address to know the location of where you are writing me from. That will help me help you. I have him on the phone right now. He's patching onto this conversation to locate you.
A long pause. 
Are you there? 
Another long pause. I start to do other things.
He just messaged his IT employee. They'll ping my IP address and reflect onto yours.

J:     So how did you want me to believe you that you are sending me the money?

Me:     Please help me to help you.

J:     Did you have a WesternUnion or Moneygram account?
I can't believe the guy is back at this point. 

Me:     My wife is a mathematics teacher. She said to tell you hello. She remembers the faculty dinner you attended at Brown university. She was a graduate student then. You had a wonderful conversation with her. She's very surprised to hear this news.

J:     Ok

Me:     My lawyer says he was able to get your phone number. He just sent it to me on another message. I'll give you a call right now. 
At this point I make a wild guess of where our little identity theft criminal might really be.
By the way, your IP address is showing Africa.

J:     Yes
Me:     How did you get to Africa?

J:     I went there to visit someone for excursion.
I've never met a person suffering devastation from an earthquake in South Carolina who is able to go on an African safari.  
Me:     Give me the address of your hotel where you are staying. I'll send the money there.

J:     Okay Name:Ladejobi Shuaib City:Surulere State:Lagos Country:Nigeria Zip Code:23401
This time I laugh out loud.
send it Western Union  or Money gram store
A long pause.
Are you going to send me the money how do I believe you send me the picture
So now I know I'm supposed to send $10,000.00 to Ladejobi Shuaib. Whatta guy. I'm so sorry to hear he was devastated in an earthquake in South Carolina. I'm not done having fun yet.

Me:     Hang on a little longer. My lawyer just messaged me and told me that his CIA contact can pinpoint your exact location. I'll have my lawyer wire the money to the CIA contact, and he can take it personally to J in Nigeria at this address 

J (Ladejobi):     No Sent the money Western Union or Money gram store
Me:     My lawyer handles my money. My wife is calling your number right now. I need to speak with you. 

J (Ladejobi):     No I do not have a phone

Me:     I gave permission to my lawyer to have his CIA contact pinpoint your location through your IP address and then match it with GPS data. He will find you there.  

J (Ladejobi):     No are you going to send the money send it Western Union

Me:     Don't worry. He's very fast.

By now I'm getting breakfast, and the family is awake and about the house. I invite my wife and daughter to read the conversation. We're all laughing.

Me:     Your computer IP address is not a hotel. Where are you. My wife is ringing your phone.
J (Ladejobi):     That is not my phone that phone is not with me

Me:     Yes it is. She's speaking to you right now. Stay at your location. We'll be sending the authorities. We've now pinpointed your GPS coordinates.

J:     You are sending the money through money gram store. Hope you understand me Robert? Just ask your lawyer to transfer the money to the address I sent to you throughr money gram and he should send me the reference number he was given from the store. L.W. is here on Facebook with me.
Me:     Ask L.W. what she thinks of Berlin. Has she been to the opera? 
A long pause while I finish my breakfast and start on other projects. When I return, the J (Ladejobi) messages are no longer there, and a message from facebook says the message has been temporarily removed and the sender's account "requires verification."