Monday, March 26, 2012

I know who you are and what you did...

The hackers hit my parents' again this past week. I took my dad to the bank and helped him open all new accounts... again. He handled it well, but it was stressful for him, very stressful.

The bank actually stopped the attempted transfer, but this time the thieves left a telltale clue to their identity.  Both of these transactions were bank transfers from my parents' accounts to someone with an account with the same bank.  Right there in black and white, was the stinking piece of slime's name within the coding for the transfer! Just so happens, the account is identified by first and last name.

The original fraudulent transfer showed only a first initial and last name, which would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack!  But armed with a full name and nothing more, I had enough information to track down the perps.

Yep, I read "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and watched a few news shows on internet fraud. I got skills and a laptop! Boo yah! 

With nothing more than a name, I was ready to go all CSI on the persons who caused my parent's trauma and possible caused my Dad's stroke.  I know it was a long shot, but it was something. I really needed to DO something - no matter how futile or lame it might seem.

I simply Google searched the first name/last name of the second thief and found a few  Facebook pages.  Low and behold, I finally found one of the Facebook persons, and only one, has a friend with the EXACT name (First initial, last name) of the first thief.

With a few strokes of the keyboard, I've now seen both their faces, know their hobbies and what they do for a living. (while they aren't stealing from senior citizens)

How scary is that?  I've SEEN the faces of the evil perpetrated against my parents.  Or at least, I'm 99% sure it's them. There is 1% doubt, so I can't be 100% sure.

What to do? What to DO? I thought about sending them a message, "I know who you are and what you did.", but I don't want to tip them off.  I want the bank to track them down and press charges, NOT alert them that we are on their trail.   But more importantly, it's not my place to go any further.  Its that 1% chance they are 100% innocent that stops me.

But I CAN pray the authorities are already miles ahead in their pursuit and justice WILL be done.  I could also pray for their repentance and redemption and forgive them.  I wish I could, but I've gotta be honest here.  I've been forced to stand by and watch how their actions have significantly hurt my parents.  I want them severely punished!

I guess I do feel a bit of pity for them. From what they've shared on Facebook, their lives are already pretty pathetic - sad is more like it. I guess I should be able to muster a little more compassion, but I'd be lying. I'm still angry, very angry.

I know if these two ARE caught their punishment will not satisfy my anger or restore my father to full health.  Only God will provide those gifts in his time.  I thank him for that every day!

The best I can do right now is promise I'll pray for their salvation, but I'm also going to pray they are caught, even if all that happens is they spend a few hours in jail, get out on bail, face trial, are sentenced, then miraculously get out with time served.

What would you do?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Get In Line!

Last Tuesday seems like a month ago.  That morning my parents' busy but manageable lives were thrown into a whirlwind and dropped back in their lives a jumbled mess.

That morning they received a fraud alert email from their bank. A hacker, the worst kind of thief and best example of an evil life form, had hacked into their accounts! It took the rest of the day working with the bank over the phone and in person to secure their funds. Thankfully, the bank restored their accounts and they returned home realizing there would be multiple days of paperwork and reorganization tasks added to their busy lives, but no real financial loss. 

Secured and restored financially, they returned home to prepare dinner for the family. What they didn't realize was bank fraud was the least of the day's challenges. 

The attempted theft was a real shock and horrific invasion of Mom and Dad's security - similar to an actual home invasion, but far more unsettling.  In a home invasion you have a crime scene.  This type of fraud happens in cyberspace where the only handprints left are digital code - evidence that can disappear with the click of a mouse.  For my parents, there WAS one unusual handprint left behind - a brazen email message from the hacker thanking them for their cooperation was sitting in their inbox Tuesday morning! Now, isn't that a slap in the face? 

The effects of an excessive stressor has a way of striking AFTER the fact. By dinner time, my Dad was slowly succumbing to the effects of the shock. He seemed to slur his words a tad and his balance wasn't normal.  I'm sure he was thinking he was just exhausted and needed to rest a while.  I know I'd be mentally exhausted and I'm not 84 years old!  But after the short rest, the symptoms were worse and obvious to the family arriving for dinner.  

Imagine the confusion and doubt they must have experienced after such a whirlwind day. When the family there with him realized something was not right, they got him into the car and to the hospital.  Of course, it seemed like a long time, but he was at the hospital soon thereafter.  A little more than an hour away from my parents, I quickly packed a bag and prayed for the best, but admit I feared the worst. 

I met my parents in the hospital emergency room to find my Dad alert and in no pain, but definitely different... and not in a good way. He had a TIA 14 years ago and I remember his sorrow as he struggled to speak and the words remained trapped inside. This time, the words weren't trapped, but his words were slurred because his tongue and lips wouldn't cooperate. His right side was weak, but his spirits were good.  He was charming the nurses and smiling as if engaged in a social visit, not ER triage procedures.  

For the next 24 hours, his symptoms grew worse and more pronounced. With the help of great nursing care, multiple tests, visits from all matters of doctors, therapists and technicians and medication, we found it was a small stroke.  

Great news is Dad's going to recover!  With lots of therapy and hard work the prognosis is a 98% to 100% recovery. I praise God for that!

In the meantime, I'm going to make sure the banking issues are resolved so Mom and Dad can concentrate on with dad's recovery.  No WAY my parents are going to jump through the bank's hoops or respond to their endless paperwork to cover the bank's interests. When the requests for information and notarized statements came in the mail, I called the bank and politely told them to "get it line" and patiently wait until Dad's fully recovered. They OWE him that! 

Word on the street is this huge national bank did have security breaches during their recent change over to the new name. My parents aren't the only customers affected. Their next door neighbor got the same Malware pop-up when she logged into the bank's website the very same day.  When I mentioned it, the bank made sure to tell me the Malware was in my parent's computer, not their website. When I reminded the bank Malware is specific to a certain website, the bank representative immediate changed the subject expressing concern and compassion for my father's medical condition.  

I really do appreciate the bank's concern for my Dad, but I'm pretty sure the bank knows the hackers got the thieving information from the bank's data base.  The hackers got the ISP's from somewhere, right? And curiously enough, the pop-up window disappeared by sometime Tuesday. Maybe the hackers took it down or maybe the bank did.  I'm not computer literate enough to say.  I just have questions and don't want anyone else victimized! 

Sorry I jumped on my soapbox and the bank's case, but I'm due!  I realize the stroke could have happened regardless of the banking debacle, but all medical professionals agreed the shock and stress the banking fraud caused could have single handedly caused the stroke.  No one knows for sure.  

However, like one of the nurses said, "I'd like to beat, then strangle the hacker with my own bare hands!" 

I told her to get in line.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Southern "sayin's"

Southerners DO have a way with words and colorful expressions.

I'm not talking about the expression "Bless her heart!" because that saying has a hidden meaning.  At least, it used to until someone betrayed our kind by explaining it's meaning to the whole world. Seriously, we should have revoked the imbecile's Southern Citizen card for taking away our secret ability to absolve ourselves and simultaneously negate the viciousness of all derogatory comments.

I'm talking about those southernisms that combine clarity of meaning, agrarian references and humor.  They are the "sayin's" I heard my grandparents and parents use.  I might have only heard them once, but I never forgot them and enjoy using them when nothing else "says it all". Coming out of the mouth of a southern city girl like me, these rural life references do seem out of context, but they never cease to surprise and amuse.

These are some of my favorites.

  • "Just because kittens are born in an oven, don't make 'um biscuits."
  • "Even a blind hog gets an ear of corn every now and then." 
  • "You can teach a pig to dance, but you'll only frustrate yourself and annoy the pig." 
  • That's like... "closing the barn door after all the cows are out." 
  • "He could eat corn on the cob through a chicken wire fence."

Come on my fellow southerners, what would you add?

Go Ahead - Google it!