Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Society • Hackers Impersonate Minister to Send Obscene Emails

On Friday, December 9th, my computer was hacked for the purpose of allowing thousands of emails to be sent out under my name and email address. When the email is opened, there is no message, only a link. When that link is opened, an obscene offer comes up while at the same time infecting the recipient’s computer to hijack the names of everyone on that contact list along with the victim’s password enabling the spammers to use that site and address for emailing their vulgarity.

Your email in-box will then be flooded with notices of addresses that are no longer in service. Within 10 minutes there were 438 emails in my spam folder plus hundreds of the emails sent directly to my in-box to overload and crash my computer. There have also been attempts to shut down my website.

Your name and email address can also be used for illegal financial gain. I received an email with the name, Bill Phillips as sender, with “Sad Situation” in the header. The email attributed to him, stated that he and his wife were in London for a vacation, were mugged, lost everything and needed immediate financial help to be able to come back home. There was a slight problem with that appeal. Bill Phillips is a friend of mine and I had seen his wife, Carla, at a church service two nights before the email came.

A few months ago, I received an email, supposedly sent by another minister I know, stating that his wife had been stricken with cancer and that he was desperate for whatever financial help I could provide. There were a couple of misspellings that would NOT have come from my friend and a couple of words used in the communication that he absolutely would not have used. I emailed back stating how sad I was over this news, and for them to please send me the name of his wife so I could send her a card. I knew his wife’s name but the hackers did not. which ended any further emails from the thieves.

AOL was not one bit of help. Instead they informed me that for customer phone technical service, I would have to pay, buy a package that would take care of times such as these.  Great! With the billions of dollars AOL receives from their subscribers, they cannot even give reasonable customer service or even protect their customers who have made them rich.

What’s more, with their technology, it would seem to be an easy task for them to track down the actual source of those spam emails, shut down those sites, file charges and see to it that these creeps are put in prison.  Nope, pay us a fee and we might be able to help. Way to go AOL!

Since AOL would NOT assist me, as customer service is supposed to do, I called Timothy Vaughn Jr, a computer expert who I allowed into my computer and he was able to install a spyware protection progam. Mr. Vaughn did it all by phone and his fees are reasonable. His email address is: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  Those who did have such a program on their computers were blocked (protected) from opening the links, which in all probablity would infect any computer that opens them.

Again, for those of you who received the email supposedly from me. I did NOT send or forward those emails. Let it be on record that NEVER will I send out a distress email asking for financial help for anything or by describing serious events that I need help to get out of. And NEVER will I hawk a product. And never will an email be sent from me without a message and only a link without any explanation as to what it is. Protect yourself with the following:

1.) If an email comes in with no message but simply a link, no matter who’s name is listed as sender, delete it immediately. Do not, again, do NOT open that link as it will be obscene and infect YOUR computer.

2.) Do NOT respond to requests for emergency financial assistance for a friend unless you know PERSONALLY that it is indeed your friend. Never blindly respond.

3.) Let AOL know that they have a RESPONSIBILITY to protect their customers, to find who the senders are and take legal action.

As of today, any and all email must be sent to me in plain text. No attachments will be accepted or opened which includes some of the neat film and video clips that are sent to me, which can contain a destructive virus to allow access to everything in my computer. I can no longer take that chance. Those emails will be deleted immediately without the links being opened. Links of interest can be opened on specific sites but NEVER open an attachment that is included in an email to you.

I urge all readers to do the same and take these precautions.  In doing so you will prevent a lot of headaches.
 

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