November 6, 2009
Thank Goodness for Professional Relationships!
On August 28th (Friday) I received a telephone call asking me if I was in London. Thoroughly confused, actually being wakened from a very deep sleep, I said no, never have been to London, wasn't planning to be in London - in fact, never have I been issued a passport! My caller, whose identity will remain private to avoid any retaliation from the guilty parties, continued by telling me that someone must have hijacked my identity on FaceBook and is sending messages to my connections telling them that I was mugged and held at gunpoint, robbed of all credit cards, cell phone and money and now am stuck without funds to pay my hotel bill and get a return flight back to the USA. This scammer asked them if they could help by sending money that would be paid back upon my return to the US. I was dumb-founded, just couldn't believe that something like this had happened to me - I'm a small business owner, building a business by teaching others to build relationships. What could a scammer expect to get from me?
You have no clue how shocked I was! We always think that those situations happen to others, but it could never happen to me . . . but, I'm living proof that it does happen to innocent people. Without that phone call, I would not have even known what was happening. My business could have literally disappeared - without any wrong doing on my part!
As I sat down to start working yesterday, I found quite a few emails and messages from online friends, both on FaceBook and on LinkedIn, all asking pretty much the same question(s) with their number one concern being my safety. Think about that - how awesome is that for people who I have not met face-to-face, but have built an online relationship with - to take the time to make sure I was safe and to know that someone was misrepresenting me! I thank them all from the bottom of my heart!
Many thanks to all of you for taking the time to telephone me, send me an email and drop me a note. This has been a real eye-opening experience for me, but I'm looking to make it a positive one!
As a Networking Coach, my business is based on building relationships. Thankfully I have been successful in this area, because good online friends, like you, are very supportive and caring, during times like this. If I had not built these relationships, my online contacts could have very easily disappeared, without any notice to me, when spammers took my account and used it to what they thought, would be their advantage. All the hard work and dedication I have put into building my reputation online could have disappeared within a second or two, without my knowledge!
I have filed a report that this was a 419 Scam with FaceBook and am now waiting on a solution from them. Other than following their recommendation to immediately change my password, there is not much else that I can do at this time.
In the meantime, I'm letting everyone know that this was a hijacked account and to take all precautions possible to insure their protection of their identity. Thankfully, my connections know, like and trust me and for that I am truly grateful!
I'm documenting this frightening experience on my blog, and on several others, with the intention of spreading the word as far as possible about identity theft and the consequences to the innocent victim(s).
You have no idea how much your support means to me, thanks so much for taking the time to telephone me or send me a note! Relationships DO work . . . if you didn't know, like or trust me, you would have "assumed" (and been wrong) that this was really me, asking for money to help me get back home. Communications from me are usually about business, quotes, tips, tricks, general advice so it was clear to my connections when they received this IM that this could not really have been me, requesting they send money to help me get home!
One other point I wanted to make . . . I don't message my IM with the exception of using Skype and I only message with those I know on Skype - I don't search for new people to chat with, I chat with only people who have connected with me in some way and we have exchanged Skype details.
Please, do take care and protect your identity. Online business can be fun and financially rewarding, but don't get carried away thinking everything is A-OK without keeping an eye on what people are saying about you. Set up Google Alerts, do everything you can to find out when and how your name is being used. With a bit of caution, you can be very successful with your online connections.
Comments, thoughts, suggestions on what else I could do about this situation would be greatly appreciated. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts!
To Your Networking Success!
Carol Deckert, Networking Coach
Carol Deckert is a Networking Coach and the Netweaving Expert for Group Mastery. She's the founder of Referrals Unlimited Network, has more than 6,700 first-level connections in LinkedIn and approximately 1,800 “friends” on Facebook and more than 3,000 followers on Twitter! Carol knows you do need the numbers before you can accumulate quality connections, because not every connection will be a good one for you. Through her netweaving work, she helps others learn to do what she did, save them lots of time and heartache, by teaching them how to network efficiently and effectively. Contact Carol on Skype: deckert1116