Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My mom – protecting the elderly from fake email since 2002


You may or may not recall, but my other venture aside from writing super important prose about things like changing the batteries in my smoke detectors is making fun of spam emails on my blog. The Lord’s work, I know, but I am not a hero. I am just a man.

One of my favorite things is when people send me their spam emails to write up. It makes me feel like “Dear Abby,” except that instead of solving people’s familial/emotional problems through great insight, I am recycling garbage on a blog that at least 10 people know/care about.

One of those 10 people is my mom who, believe it or not, also occasionally sends me her spam emails to write up. I have no doubt she tells all of her coworkers to forward her spam emails so she can send them to her son who makes fun of them on his blog. “You must be so proud,” they say to her, although my mom does not detect the sarcasm and responds, “I am, I am. Now I know it was worth it to go back to school myself so that I could get my nursing certification and pay for his Catholic education and also college.” Then her coworkers don’t know if that was sarcastic and just slowly back away from the conversation.

I talked to my mom recently and she said she had a spam email for me, only it was on her phone and she couldn’t figure out how to send it. I told her to just forward it to me as she would an email—because, you know, it’s an email—but this was apparently not an adequate suggestion. In my head I wished the Apple store employees luck and patience for when my mom arrived there to set up an appointment at the Genius Bar to figure out how to forward an email from her iPhone.

She was disappointed too because the spam email was pretty great, she said. It claimed to be from the FBI and came with detailed instructions about how to obtain her supposed lottery winnings.
“Wow, that does sound amazing,” I said.

“Yeah,” she said. “It kind of worried me, though. So I actually contacted the FBI to let them know.”

“Yeah. Wait, you what?”

Indeed my mom had gotten in touch with the FBI to alert them to her spam email. She was told to use their website to fill out a complicated form, although I’m sure the gist of the situation was provided in the section for additional comments: Dear FBI, someone is trying to impersonate you guys and they’re saying I won the lottery. My son writes about spam for a living so I am good at discerning these things. If you need me to appear in court to testify, please send the info to my regular email and not my phone because I am having trouble viewing email on my phone. Oh, and just to be sure, I didn’t actually win the lottery, did I? Ha, ha, j/k! Thanks, FBI! Love, Judy.

I asked my mom why she took time out of her very busy day to do this, and she said, “God forbid some 80-year-old woman gets fooled by this … it looks very legit.”

“Mom, why would the FBI be telling someone they won the lottery? That is the opposite of legit.”

“I know,” she said while she laughed, “but still. You never know. You hear all the stories. Of course, now they have all my information.”

I enjoyed the fact that my mom, who brings communion to the hospital on Sundays and who does things like contact the FBI about spam emails, was now worried about being in the FBI’s crosshairs like she were starring in The Bourne Identity.

Days later she finally managed to send me the email. It is as amazing as advertised. All she has to do to get her $2.4 million is send $96 in shipping to “Mr. Ken Jackson,” who is in charge of the “Anti-Terrorist and Monetary Crimes Division,” ironically. Somewhere, an 80-year-old woman was doing just that before the actual FBI broke down her door and dramatically stopped her.

Thanks to my mom.

I guess you could say reporting on spam email runs in the family. But don’t call us heroes. It’s just the Lord’s work. 

"We found the perps, Mrs. Kenny, thanks to your tireless efforts. All four of 'em operating as 'Mr. Ken Jackson.' This country owes you its gratitude."

Note: This column appears in the 12/19 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/20 issue of the Peoria Times.

3 comments:

Dave Brigham said...

As a guy whose mother bought a new camera for Skyping purposes, only to find out later that her old, monitor-mounted camera was fine but she had neglected to choose "Answer call with video" when using Skype, I found this piece pretty damn funny!

mkenny59 said...

Ha, Dave, it's possible we are brothers.

Anonymous said...

I thought emails were like prayers and didn't actually need to be "sent" in the conventional sense of sending something whereby you do something that initates one thing going from one place to another. Haha this was funny man! -Anthony