Ever since I wrote about a local woman's experience with Internet phishing, I've been paying closer attention to my own e-mail. And, as much as I detest these people, I've become impressed with how good they are at their game.
There was one e-mail claiming to be from my bank, for example, that said I needed to reconfirm my password, or my accounts were in danger of being frozen. I knew it was a scam, but clicked on the link anyway to see where it would take me. The Web page was an exact duplicate of the official one used by the bank, including their logo.
That was nothing compared to an e-mail I received this week.
The e-mail was ostensibly from a soldier in Iraq, signed by someone using the initials "DR."
All it said was that the situation in Iraq was far different than most people knew, and he wanted to talk about it. Hmmm, I thought, that's interesting. It seems reasonable that a soldier from Northern Nevada serving in Iraq would look up his hometown newspaper and send an e-mail if he had something to say. And there was nothing about the e-mail that suggested it was spam.
So I sent a response back, something to the effect that "If you're trying to reach the Nevada Appeal in Carson City, we'd be happy to listen to what you have to say." I hit the send button and deleted the e-mail.
This response came a day later:
I really appreciate your sympathies and wishes for I must say we need it here. I am one of the commanders in Iraq right now and I must say that the situation here is far unstable than what is reported on the news. The situation does not bother me, what really infuriates me is the lack of count on our fallen heros who died for the sake of justice on behalf of the United States. When we first got here, I must say that we found a large amount of the loot lying around and we returned almost all to the Iraqi government while the rest went to the agencies in charge of the loot in Iraq. Now with the annoying and frustrating situation, we fortunately came across another loot believed to be the loot of the late sons of Saddam. This loot is now dedicated the families of the fallen comrades.
We have made all the necessary arrangements. The loot is presently out of Iraq and the location will be given to you in due course of this project. I know you must be saying, this is a scam, that, if this was not scam why cant we do this ourselves? Good question, but as you know that we are in still in Iraq and we cant risk waiting till we are out of here and that's if we make it out here alive. We are not in anyway interested in the loot. Its entirely meant for the families and a certain amount for you as compensation.
This project is classified and I hope it remains that way whether you are interested or not.
If you are willing to complete this final stage, then do respond so that I can forward you the procedures required for the successfull completion.
So here's the response I'm sending back:
"DR, I received your e-mail about the situation in Iraq. Anything to help. Just let me know specifically what you're asking of me. We're all concerned about the safety of our troops and want to offer support in any way we can."
Is there a chance it's real? Well, sure, anything's possible. But if it were, there would clearly be laws being broken, and the soldiers would doubtlessly be perturbed to learn their scheme is playing out in a newspaper column.
More likely what this is is a new level of moral degradation. Internet "phishers," as they are called, prey on the elderly and vulnerable, so why should we be surprised that they'll prey on the sympathies of people who just want to do their part to support the troops (while making a little money).
My prediction is I'll receive instructions that will eventually require me to give out my personal information.
I'll let you know the outcome.
Jerry Evans, who owns 99.1 FM Talk in Carson City, is hoping to send a message to voters and to Hillary Clinton, if she shows up for a forum next month in Carson City.
He's giving away hundreds of bumper stickers that say "Anybody but Hillary."
He says if you have to ask what's wrong with Hillary, he doesn't have time to explain it to you adequately. Yet he concedes she has a very good shot at becoming the next president.
Steve Platt, the local chairman of the Democratic Party, has no problem with the bumper stickers. In fact, looking at the field of potential candidates, he thinks it's very possible that Evans will get his wish, and there will still be a Democratic president.
The party is still working out the details of the Feb. 21 forum that will bring the big names to Carson City.
Rumors that the first family was having problems getting their four dogs settled into the Governor's Mansion proved to be just that when an Appeal reporter checked Thursday.
For now, the dogs are staying at the Gibbons' Reno home until a dog run is completed at the mansion.
Gov. Miller also had four big dogs, said Ande Engleman, chief of staff for first lady Dawn Gibbons.
"Governors seems to like dogs, I don't know why," she said.
Once the run is in, the Gibbonses will get a permit from the city to allow them to have four dogs. The permit costs an additional $2 on top of regular dog-licensing fees.
• Barry Ginter is editor of the Appeal. Contact him at 881-1221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.