The Beatty Chamber of Commerce has fallen victim to one of the sneakiest internet scams out therethe stranded traveler scam.
Although the chamber did not suffer a financial loss, its email account was hijacked by hackers who sent a message to everyone on its contact list telling them that Administrative Assistant Linda Shirley had been robbed while traveling in Manila, Philippines and needed a loan in order to get home.
When she discovered the scam, Shirley sent out an email warning everyone.
I assure you that I am not in the Philippines, said Shirley. She said she was sorry for any inconvenience it had caused.
Shirley was more fortunate than some people who have fallen victim to this scam. In some cases, hackers block the victims access to the contact list so that warnings cannot be sent out.
The stranded traveler scam has been around for a few years, and is one of many that users of the internet have to be on the look out for.
Sometimes these scam emails, which usually come from outside the U.S., contain obvious odd spellings and bad grammar, but others, like this one, are better written (although this one did have some foreign-sounding phrasing).
The best defense against these scams is a healthy skepticism. Experts warn against opening any attachment in an email from strangers.
Such attachments are the most common method hackers use to infect your computer with trojan viruses that can give them access to your passwords and personal information.
Some of them even record everything you type.
Another piece of advice from experts is not to use the same password on different sitesespecially not to use the same password that you use for your email.