I was sitting in front of my computer on the afternoon of March 6, 2010, when I got a Facebook instant message purporting to be from “Emma” (not her real name)—who is, it will be useful to note, in her mid-sixties and relatively conservative (as well as being a native and capable speaker of English). It quickly became clear that the real Emma’s Facebook account had been hacked. Apart from changing the purported sender’s name (and my wife’s), I’ve reproduced the conversation just as it occurred.
Hi,how are you?
Good afternoon, Emma.
It's a pleasure to see you on FB.
How are you?
but am not good at the moment..
I wondered how APC would impact turnout at SS today. We had a relatively big group, but one composed entirely of regulars or semi-regulars.
Oh, my--what's the matter?
am stuck in London with my family..
London, where it's, what, 10:50 at night?
Doesn't sound fun at all.
we got mugged at gun point last night,
So what's happened?
they took all our cash,credit cards,and cellphones
it was so scary
Oh, my . . . .
Any trip insurance?
reported to the police,and canceled all cards,and bank accounts for now
all we have left are just our passports,and return tickets.
Can your credit card companies get you substitute cards?
that will be till I get back
but we need some money to settle the hotel bills,and then get a cab to the airport.
I need your help please!!
OK--what can I do?
I need you to loan me some money,
What's the best way to handle that?
I'll def refund you as soon as am back.
all you do is have it wired on my name,and location.
How long have you been in London? That's just awful.
just visited for a short vac
do you have any western union office nearby ?
Hmmm . . . .
Trying to think
Just sent you $250 to your PayPal account.
I can't get that for now
guess it will be better with western union
I still have my passport for identification at western union.
Where's the Western Union?
It may be near someone I know in London who could get you the money.
you can google to find one nearby,
No, I'm asking where the one is at which you'll be getting the money, to see if it's near where my friend lives.
or you can have it done online with your credit card.
that is lavender hill
Which hotel are you at? I can simply have my friend drop by with the money. That will be simplest. She can pay the hotel bill and give you some cash.
I have limited time down here
that is why i ASKED YOU TO HAVE THE $250 wired on my name,and location via western union.
Well, she can be there in half an hour.
my flight might have left by then.
Emma, because it's an emergency, I'm happy to try to help you, but after what you did I'm really kind of surprised you'd choose me to contact.
as it seems at the moment,
am really sorry if
am really sorry if
are you theree?
Are you going to keep your hands off my wife the next time you see her?
please I promise I'll do anything you need.
Carla is still in therapy because of what you did at that party.
are you there?
are you still helping me out?
Have you checked out of your hotel yet?
need to settle the bills,before we leave.
OK, what's the hotel?
But which Sunderland? I can arrange for the money to be at the desk in five to ten minutes.
can you just help me out here?
Yes, I can, as I said to you: I can have cold hard cash in your hands at the desk in five to ten minutes. But I first need to know which hotel you're at.
Please understand how angry Carla will be with me even for thinking of giving money to you.
If I wire money to London, she'll know.
But if I have Rowena drop it off for you, we can handle it under the table.
how will she know?if you don't tell her?
Because wiring it means using my credit card, and she reviews every credit card bill.
just help me out if you can
Look, are you at the Sunderland in Gosford Park?
I know that's where you stayed last time.
OK, which one?
please enough of the questions and get me off here
Emma, you're asking me to take a big risk with my wife, and I'm not sure why I should help someone who's behaved the way you have. Just stop being cagey and tell me which hotel you're at. Is it because you're there with Peter?
Is that why you don't want to tell me?