The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, March 07, 2005  

Getting “Phished” Hurts Like Hell

In today’s New York Times, we read in “On EBay, E-Mail Phishers Find a Well-Stocked Pond,” by Ian Austen:

Donald Jay Alofs got a call last fall at home asking if he had recently bought several thousand dollars worth of electronics. Mr. Alofs had not, and he had a good reason for not being on a spending spree: he was in the hospital at the time.

Things got worse for Mr. Alofs, a coin collector and dealer who buys and sells on eBay. His inbox was soon filled with e-mail messages from irate buyers: someone had used his eBay account to sell about $780,000 worth of coins -- about five times the online business Mr. Alofs had done over several years -- and many of the coins offered for sale never existed.

Adding insult to injury, fees for hosting photos for the fraudulent auctions had been financed with $300 from Mr. Alofs’s account with PayPal, eBay's online payment service.

The source of the trouble, he believes, was that his eBay and PayPal accounts were hijacked through what is known as phishing, a type of online fraud that collects victims’ account passwords and other information, after he responded to an e-mail that appeared to come from a legitimate business.

I can relate. I can relate to Alofs’s predicament because the exact same thing has happened to me. Twice. Twice within the last three months.

Because of the “phishing” to which the Times’s article about Austen refers, my checking account, which currently should carry an available balance in the (incredibly unimpressive) low three figures, i.e, about 300 dollars, currently “shows,” or in the prevailing position of my bank, which shall remain nameless, “demonstrates,” me to be overdrawn by more than $3,000.

As a result, I cannot access or use my account in any way.

I cannot deposit funds into my account nor can I withdraw funds through any conceivable means whatsoever.

I cannot open a new account at my current bank, and have been advised that most other depositaries, at least those who might contact the “current” location of my scanty funds, will view my application therefor with considerable hestitancy.

And I no longer can accept or receive donations from Rittenhouse readers through a PayPal “tip box,” the means of donation by which many bloggers earn or supplement their income.

And if you think my bank, let alone PayPal, makes it easy to resolve such situation, think again.

I am a man without a checking account, and in this economy, that makes me no man at all.

| HOME |

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |