From the Facebook feed of Rabbi Uriel Vigler, Shliach in Manhattan:
I fell for a scam not once but twice!
A few weeks ago I received a response to my weekly email from Jennifer*, a lovely elderly woman who lives alone in Manhattan. We communicate periodically by phone or by email. She told me how inspired she was and we got into a short conversation. The following morning she wrote:
“How are you doing? There is something I need you to do, I am not available on phone, I’d appreciate if you could email me back when you get this.”
“Of course,” I responded. “I’m here for whatever you need.”
“Thanks for your response,” she wrote. “I’m sorry for bothering you with this email. I need to get a GOOGLE PLAY GIFT CARD for my niece who is down with cancer of the liver. It’s her birthday today but all my effort purchasing it online proved abortive. Can you help grab one from any store around you? I’ll surely reimburse you upon my arrival.”
I agreed, with pleasure, and quickly Googled how to order the gift cards. I sent her some links and offered to do it for her if she couldn’t figure it out on her own.
In response, she emailed:
“The total amount needed is $300. Here is her email address ____ . Let me know once you have made the order.”
Now, buying gift cards is not really in my job description, but helping people surely is.
So I forwarded her email to *Golda in my office and asked her to take care of it. “Just call Jennifer first to ask if we should use our credit card or hers,” I said. I trusted her to reimburse us either way.
But when Golda reached Jennifer, she said she had not been emailing me at all! Sure enough, she checked her account and discovered she had been totally hacked.
I couldn’t believe I’d fallen for this! How was I so gullible? I mean, I checked to make sure the email address was hers, and the font and writing style was consistent with how she usually writes. But clearly, the hacker had done his homework!
Now, you’d think I would have learned something from this close call, but the next week a fellow NYC Chabad rabbi texted me in the middle of the night to ask if I could Zelle him $480 for an emergency. I immediately agreed and asked if it could wait until morning because my wife knows our Zelle info and I don’t. It’s fortunate I don’t have the password because early the following morning a message went out warning us that this rabbi’s phone had been hacked and not to fall for the hacker who was trying to steal people’s money.
I fell for a scam not once, but twice! In a single week, no less! And I don’t consider myself particularly gullible, but these were both so authentic. Why would I think to question them?
But the reality is that every single one of us is “hacked” on a daily basis, and we need to discover who is the “real” me and who is the “hacked” me. We are hacked, so we fall into a bad mood, or resort to anger, or give in to temptation. When we lose our cool with other drivers, or snap at a coworker, or eat that “almost kosher” sandwich, that is because we have been hacked.
To discover the real me we need to recognize the hack, peel back the layers, and find the pure core, the good and loving essence.
The real me is the person who loves G-d, is kind and generous and friendly. The real me goes out of my way to help others and serve G-d. The real me goes to minyan even when it’s hard, eats kosher even on vacation, and is respectful to my parents even after a challenging day at work.
So, have you been hacked? Who is the real you?
*Name changed to protect privacy.