The first call came at 7 a.m. from a friend who happens to be a Milwaukee television news anchor.
"Steve, are you OK? I received an e-mail saying something terrible has happened to you?"
Confused, the best I could mutter was, "Wha?"
My friend then explained that he had received an e-mail that appeared to be from me. On the subject line of the e-mail was the phrase "My Predicament."
The e-mail contained the following message: "I'm writing with tears in my eyes, my family and I came down here to cardiff-wales (UK) for a short vacation unfortunately we were mugged at the park of the hotel we stayed, all cash credit cards and cell were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us. My wife was traumatized at these incident and she's was trying to protect me and he's currently at the hospital recieving treatment. I have been to the embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and our flight leaves pretty soon from now but we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us
leave until we settle the bills. I need your help financially to settle the bills then head straight to the airport. Please be so kind to reply back so I can tell you what to do and how to get some cash to us, also i need you to check you mail from time to time today as its the only way i can reach you. I'm under pressure at the moment. Steve"
Of course, this was a hoax, although here's the eerie thing. My wife and I really WERE out of the country that day, as I was attending a professional conference. That fact made it even more disturbing when the hoax e-mail with my name on it was received by one of my brothers and my sister. At that moment, I was grateful that my mother had not received it.
As best I can tell, here is what happened. Someone or something hacked into my old MSN e-mail account, gleaned all of the e-mail addresses it could find on my computer and automatically sent out the hoax e-mail in my name.
And even more devious, the program then changed the password on my MSN account, so I can't even go to MSN and change it to prevent something
like that from happening again. The hotel's technical support staff tried to tell me it was a breach of MSN's security, not the hotel's Internet provider. I don't think so. I haven't used that e-mail address in 10 years, and I never sent e-mails to the people who received the hoax mails through
MSN. Their e-mail addresses were not stored or referenced in the MSN account.
However, getting a live person at MSN to take corrective action for this situation is proving to be a futile mission. (Does anybody out there have Bill Gates' cell phone number?)
I was flooded by e-mails from friends and business acquaintances, who either were concerned for me or wanted merely to let me know I had been hacked. Some readers even called our office to inquire about my welfare. Others said they knew it wasn't from me because some words were misspelled. (I'll take that as a compliment.)
Let me assure you folks, my wife and I indeed are just fine and we've returned to American soil.
But here's a lesson learned: If you have a dormant old MSN e-mail account, shut it down now.
And if you are ever mugged in the U.K. and really need help, well, good luck to you. Because I won't believe it.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Steve Jagler
Published May 16, 2013
I often wonder if public officials give any consideration to the historical lens that will define their current level of enlightenment decades from now. History will show there is a "right" side and a "wrong" side to many of the issues we debate today, including health care reform, gay marriage and gun control.
Published April 17, 2013
Hey Milwaukee, are ya feeling the love? In case you haven't noticed, the city has been receiving plenty of praise in recent weeks from Forbes magazine, which named it "The Capital of Water" and one of the nation's "Emerging Downtowns."
Published March 6, 2013
Steve Jagler's friend Tiffany Weber got tired of the rat race. So she's decided to go into the business of being Tiffany.
Published Feb. 25, 2013
Milwaukee-based development firm HKS Holdings LLC plans to develop an eight-story, 158-room Kimpton hotel in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward, San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants announced today.
Published Feb. 18, 2013
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's plan to reject additional federal Medicaid funding for the state's BadgerCare program is drawing mixed reviews, mostly divided along party lines.
Published Feb. 1, 2013
The common stock shares for Kohl's Corp. rose 56 cents Thursday amid growing Wall Street speculation that the Menomonee Falls-based retailer could be a prime target to be acquired by a private equity firm in 2013.
Published Jan. 24, 2013
Regardless of the impact of the Affordable Care Act, the members of the board of directors of the Council of Small Business Executives (COSBE) are remarkably bullish about their prospects for 2013.
Published Jan. 10, 2013
A September research report by Ceres, a Boston-based business sustainability advocacy organization, was eerily prescient. Ceres published the white paper titled, "Stormy Future for U.S. Property/Casualty Insurers: The Growing Costs and Risks of Extreme Weather Events."
Published Dec. 20, 2012
Not to be confused with THE Christmas story, I would like to conclude the year with a Christmas story. And a lighthearted, silly little one at that.
Published Dec. 19, 2012
As we prepare to discard the calendar of a tumultuous and often nasty 2012 in Wisconsin, it's time to launch into 2013 with a clean slate and try to begin the year with no grudges and a spirit of compromise. Here's one man's Milwaukee wish list for Santa.