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From the editor: A name from the past reaches out on social media

BY JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE

PUNGO — Years ago, I met a would-be collaborator for a writing project that ultimately didn’t happen. We moved on, but he reached out to me on Facebook this winter.

We reconnected — or so I thought.

Initially, we exchanged vague pleasantries via messages, then virtually ignored each other. This is an aspect of digital friendships that faithfully approximates some flesh-and-blood ones. 

I got suspicious when he became unusually chatty before Christmas.

He touted a grant program that could deliver cash to nonprofit community builders. The Independent News certainly loves community, though, if only theoretically, we mean to make a buck.

My “friend” was actually a scammer who adopted an identity. Naturally, I egged him on.

The gist of what followed was that there was “$70,000,00” coming his or maybe my way.

The commas in that sum appear here as they were as written, and so I asked whether I might borrow $69,999,99.

My “friend” asked whether I was kidding around.

I could use $7 million as much as the next American, but I’m generally kidding when I ask for more than $1 million. 

I sent my “friend” a link to a fraud alert from grants.gov that matched his pitch. Also, I asked him how we met. His account went away.

I reported him to Facebook and reached my old acquaintance by email. He’d heard from others, too. 

An alert for this scam came out this past year, and the U.S. government notes the federally-run Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, or CFDA, does not solicit or seek personal information via social media or telephone.

The scam as I experienced it used a sound-alike agency name.

If you experience such a thing, the government says to to reach local law enforcement or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center via ic3.gov.

Be careful out there.

Also, commas are not periods.


© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

The Independent News

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