Jane Corbin, documentary maker and international journalist from the UK made a wrong split second decision that almost ruined her life. She was a victim of Phising, - the word is a combination of fishing and phreaking which means breaking into a phone system.
It was a busy Friday night the week before Christmas and she was rushing to finish a documentary she'd been working on. Suddenly an alarming email popped into her Yahoo mailbox from Yahoo itself saying that her account was about to be shut down unless she confirmed all her details. It looked authentic, the graphics, the text, the disclaimer were identical to the ones used by Yahoo and even some details about her account were accurate.
She panicked, terrified she'd lose all the precious material she'd spent days working on, so she did it, she filled in all the boxes including her password and pressed 'enter'. Within a minute, her screen went blank, her electronic lifeline was severed and the nightmare began.
Wihin seconds of pressing the enter button, a message written by the hackers but under her name went out to everyone in the computerized address book attached to her email account. Within a minute phone calls started flooding in from alarmed contacts who had received the message. She did not know at first what they were talking about, the hackers had changed her password to shut her out of her computer. The first call came through, a friend in his car had received a message on his BlackBerry saying she was in trouble in Spain and urgently needed money wired to her, the same email went out to nearly 1,000 people around the world. The message read "I am in a critical situation in Madrid, all my money has been stolen from my hotel, could you help me out with a loan of $1500 pounds.'
She couldn't raise anyone at Yahoo, it was Friday night before Christmas and all her pleas for help went unanswered. It took until Monday before a lady rang from Yahoo to help her back into her account. She asked why Yahoo's own filter system hadn't spotted the bogus email before she opened it. Her bank was more efficient, their help line was operating on the Friday night and they stopped her credit cards straight away which left her with no plastic for Chritmas presents because she had to wait for the new cards to come in the mail.
The scams from Nigeria saying that people have won the lottery are still going on and the crooks get on average two responses out of every one thousand emails they send out, so there are still plenty of naive people out there.
Be careful out there.