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Saturday, Oct 16, 2021
Outlook.com

‘Mugged In Rio! Send $$’

Being phone-hacked needn’t just be alarming. It can be riotous fun.

‘Mugged In Rio! Send $$’
Illustration by Sorit
‘Mugged In Rio! Send $$’
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

I was in Spain, having made a “little trip” there. I had lost my luggage with my passport, phone and credit cards. The embassy was keen to help me, but they could not do it without money (perhaps they had lost their luggage too). Bank verification would take time. Could you please send me $900 ASAP through a Western Union money transfer? I will, of course, pay you back when I get home.

That was the gist of the message. It was sent to every friend and acquaintance on my contacts list (including myself). The first phone call, early in the morning, said simply: “You have been hacked!”

As the hackee, my first response was one of alarm—what about my bank accounts, what about my mother, who at 74 is an Internet addict but not familiar with the Internet cons? The bank was called first, and only then (I am ashamed to say) was my mother. Meanwhile, the messages and phone calls. Cricketers, writers, academics, schoolmates, university pals, the guy I had met only a couple of days earlier, the gentleman in...

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