Oh the Joy Being Hacked!
Some of you have been the recipients of a delightful little email from me asking for your money. And I am so sorry. I hope you immediately recognized that the atrocious spelling and grammar of the note evidences a crook whose short-cut to money-making obviously skipped over high school English or the ESL (English as a Second Language) classes he should have taken first.
And if you didn’t notice the grammar and spelling, I hope you quickly sensed that your pastor would never, ever send you a personal email about women in the hospital who are suffering from cancer. No kidding. Here’s the note one of you received [with my comments in brackets]:
Thanks for the quick response Richard, I’m very glad to hear from you Barbara.. [Notice the differing names—obviously someone was cutting and pasting notes as fast as he/she could and didn’t catch the separate names—also note no commas separating the names and the double periods at the end of the sentence.] I just need to get eBay gift card [grammar is his/hers/theirs] today for some women going through cancer at the hospital [what pastor alive would describe the desperate battle cancer always represents with the words “women going through cancer”!] but I can’t do that right now because of my busy schedule in a conference meeting with only access to email. [So what conference room is it that wouldn’t allow you to slip out of the room and make an important phone call? And whatever conference it is, it must be a boring meeting because I’m soliciting eBay gift cards while sitting through the deliberations.] Can you get it from any store around you possibly now? [What’s the meaning of that garbled sentence?] and I will pay you back later in cash or check. [Cash or check—sounds more like a checkout cashier than a soliciting pastor.] Let me know if you can get the card for these patients. [One card for all of them?]
Then he/she/they sign off: Dwight K. Nelson, Pioneer Memorial Church, and our address.
Oh, and the email address the hackers set up to receive your replies? firstname.lastname@example.org. Pretty clever throwing “pmchurch” (which we all recognize) into the address, hoping we won’t notice the Gmail suffix set up for the scam. Pioneer has never had a Gmail address! But how often do we all hurry through our inboxes not always catching the details of an email address?
Sad really—because as it turns out, the scam is to get you to buy those gift cards, scratch off the silver, take a picture of the exposed numerical code and send that pix to these scam artists who are able to cash in on (or sell) those cards because of the now activated (by your purchase) codes. Preying on our generosity, our compassion, and our desire to reflect the unselfish spirit of Jesus. We are guilty as charged!
That’s Paul’s point in his letter to the young Christians in Corinth: “You show that you are a letter [email] from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God” (2 Corinthians 3:3). I.e., you followers of Jesus are a recommendation email from Christ to the world. People read your email and they think it is from him. How’s that for a switch!
Only you and I are not bogus emails or sham representations to all who read us. As Desire of Ages reminds us: “Christ is sitting for His portrait in every disciple. Every one God has predestinated to be ‘conformed to the image of His Son.’ Romans 8:29. In every one Christ’s long-suffering love, His holiness, meekness, mercy, and truth are to be manifested to the world” (826).
Amazing. People look at you and think of Jesus. Joy of joys—what could be better!