Cynthia Neff got her e-life back, but it wasn't easy.
FILE PHOTO BY WILL WALKER
Former IBM exec Cynthia Neff has used computers since the 1980s
and understands the importance of secure passwords. That's why it
was particularly galling to discover a hacker had taken over her
Gmail account and was trying to fleece her contacts with the old
"London mugging" scam.
Worse, the scammer locked her out of her email, Facebook, and
even a secondary Yahoo account.
"It's horrible," said Neff July 20, still able to communicate
with old-fashioned telephone. She's running for the Rivanna
District seat on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors and had based
her campaign distribution list on her email contacts.
Neff's hundreds of contacts, including the Hook,
received an email marked "urgent" that spun a fictitious tale of
her being in London and her bag had been stolen along with passport
and money. Could the recipient wire her some quick cash, which
she'd repay when she got home, so she could get on the next
Although the scam is not new, Neff worried that some would fall
for it. "Older people and relatives called to ask, 'Do you need
money?'" she recounts. "A neighbor came by, worried about me, and
said he'd called the British Embassy."
The nice thing, she says, was that she got 75 phone calls from
people checking to see if she was okay. Not so nice: getting locked
out of her accounts...