Sue Morrow: E-mail hacker takes me hostage

Recently I was jarred out of a sound and dreamless sleep early in the morning by my twin brother in Colorado calling to tell me he had received a weird e-mail from me which he felt confident was the work of a hacker.

Bill went on to describe how it said I was in London, and my bag containing my passport and credit cards had been stolen. More details were included, the jist of "my" e-mail was I needed funds to get back home and included two phone numbers in the UK to get information about how to transfer the money to me.

I no sooner hung up the phone when it rang again, and again and again. All day long. And there were dozens of emails regarding the scam.

I had phone calls and e-mails from people I hadn't heard from in years. Obviously this hacker had obtained access to my computer address book.

Almost all of those who contacted me had been sure "my" e-mail to them had been fraudulent.

But a few actually believed it might be true. One dear, sweet young woman in San Diego told me she tried to call one of the phone numbers in the UK but didn't have enough minutes on her cell phone. So then she called me.

Some sent me tongue-in-cheek e-mails explaining why they couldn't part with any money or just a small amount to help me out of my "crisis."

Between the e-mails and the constantly ringing telephone, I was kept hostage for two solid days. It couldn't have happened at a worse time as I needed to prepare for a trip to Texas the next day and my daughter's wedding.

I was getting madder by the minute, but what really sent me in to a purple rage was when I tried to send a mass emailing to everyone telling them that no, I hadn't gone to London to get advance information on Prince William's impending wedding. I wasn't able to do that because the SOB who had invaded by computer had cleaned out my list of contacts. Probably figured out that was what I would do.

While I was in Houston, I got a call from a neighbor who happened to see a squad car arrive at my house and a sheriff's deputy trying the front door and going through the back yard gate. She told him where I was and all was OK.

It turns out that a tenant I have for a place I manage had been trying to reach me while I was in Houston after getting the "I'm broke - send money" e-mail. After three phone messages that weren't returned, she called the law to check on me.

People who have been victims of home burglaries say the experience left them feeling violated. I felt the same way.

However, I learned that a lot of people care about me and my welfare. That more than equalized what had happened to me, thanks to that scum.

• Sue Morrow is a longtime journalist and member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame. She may be reached at


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