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Samara O'Shea

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Nothing Like a Little Spam to Remind You How Loved You Are

Posted: 08/25/11 11:43 PM ET

The first call came at 8:37 a.m. I looked at my phone: Why is my cousin Kevin calling me on a Saturday morning? I rolled back over. The second call came seven minutes later at 8:44. It was my mother. Two family calls before 9 a.m., I figured I better answer.

"Hello. . ."

"Are you okay?"

"Yes."

"Are you in Malaysia?"

She didn't have to say anything else. With those two questions -- less than ten words combined -- I knew exactly what had happened. It's a 21st-Century problem if ever there was one: someone had spammed me. The question was which account?

My mother explained, "I got a message from your Gmail." Shit! That hits home. Back in the day, my MySpace account was compromised, and during my early days of Facebook (2007-ish) someone got into that, too. In those instances, someone left absurd ads on a few of my friends' walls. That's not as bad as someone e-mailing every single person in your contacts saying "I'm in Malaysia and I need money." Although most people can spot an artificial e-message at the subject, it's still embarrassing.

I got out of bed to do damage control. On my way to the computer, at 8:48 a.m., the text messages started coming in. The first was from my friend David -- we had brief but pleasant catch-up session. Next to chime in was my friend Britt. After she told me about the e-mail situation, we made plans to get together. I was starting to see a silver lining.

Back at my computer, I attempted to log into Gmail. I was locked out. I reported it and headed over to Facebook. The hackers had tried to get into that account, too. But Facebook recognized that they were logging in from off the coast of Africa and asked that they identify some of my friends before being granted access. They couldn't. Well done Facebook! Once I changed my password and was on my profile page, I had several wall posts telling me about the incident. I assured everyone I was okay and started to realize how far this had gone.

9:41 a.m. - My Godfather calls to make sure I'm okay.

9:49 a.m. - The west coast wakes up to my e-mail. My friend Dale from LA sends a text. He's the first person to start with, "You probably know this already, but . . ."

I went to Twitter to make an announcement there as well. As I was typing in the URL it occurred to me that every man I've dated since February 2007 -- when I opened the Gmail account--just received an e-mail from me. Awesome.

By the time I got there, the Twittersphere was responding to my misfortune:

@craftgasm I assume you know your email was hacked?

@lkyim It had me going for about 2 seconds, until I realized the email was...very poorly written. Glad it wasn't true!

@rodney_o They left an address, maybe I'll write them a nice letter! ;)

I decided that in addition to Twitter & Facebook, I should also leave an update on my blog. Upon arrival I found this a comment from a reader:

10:03 a.m. - "Samara, your email's been hacked! I got a terrible email from your address (with your signature, even) asking for money. It didn't even capitalize the I's." I almost peed myself.

10:11 a.m. - My good friend Andrew calls. We get the e-mail nonsense out of the way then spend quality time catching up. We talk about the guys we're dating.

10:20 a.m. - I realize that I'm not going to get this much attention on my birthday and start to enjoy it.

10:22 a.m. - Rachel from the HR department at work leaves a message.

The day went ahead with the same rhythm. Friends, acquaintances, and co-workers contacted me from different time zones in different technological forms. In the late afternoon I heard from the assistant priest at my church. The final text of the day came from my ex-boyfriend's parents. We've stayed in touch for years. We still exchange Christmas cards, but it was nice to hear from them during the off-season.

It took me until Tuesday to get back into Gmail. Once in, the first thing I did was find my contacts, which I had never done before. There were 999 people listed. I started deleting like a mad woman -- guys I used to date, friends who stopped talking to me after they got married, editors who ignored my pitches. Gone. Gone. Gone. In the event that something like this happens again, I only want my nearest and dearest to have to deal with it.

To my surprise, there were very few e-mails waiting for me. I thought for certain there'd be an onslaught of "someone hacked your e-mail" messages. There was virtual silence. The next day I realized I wasn't receiving e-mails at all. Upon further investigation, I found the hackers had left me one final F-you. They made arrangements for all of my e-mails to be forwarded to them.

Since that eventful day, the dust has settled. I got to keep my account, my e-mails are no longer sent to strangers, and I've implemented the two-step verification process. There's only one thing left to say:

Dear Hackers,

You are sad, sad people. If you had half the love in your life that I have in mine, then you wouldn't find it necessary to try and steal from unsuspecting souls. What did you get from assaulting my e-mail account? Nothing. No one fell for your foolish ploy. What did I get? I got an amusing day catching up with friends and the therapeutic opportunity to clean up my contacts. I hope things get better for you.

Samara

 
 
 

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