On April 6 at 12:08 p.m. I received an e-mail in my spam folder with the subject line: “Re: Grafton Inn Ambrotype.”
It came from someone named Kathy Lagoli with the e-mail address: Kathy@thingdiamond.com and the message was just one line: “Would you be available to discuss this on the phone? Kathy”
At the same time she was sending this to me, she (it?) was also sending the same message to approximately a trillion other bloggers, and in each case the subject line referred to some subject they had written about in their blog.
I would have realized this immediately if I had the sense to investigate and type the name “Kathy Lagoli” into Google. Try it and you will find page after page of entries with titles like this: “Do Not Open An E-Mail from Kathy Lagoli”, “Kathy Lagoli SCAM!” and “Kathy Lagoli has Been Here Too.” All were written beginning April 6.
It seems that all of these astute bloggers smelled a rat and checked her out before replying. Many of them then changed the password on their blog and even their phone number if they had revealed it.
But I—a rolling crone who is not very astute about such things, wrote her right back BEFORE I checked Google. Her subject line referred to an antique photograph—an ambrotype—that I wrote about in my blog in January of 2010—it’s a photograph of the Inn on our New England village green that is still in business, and it may be one of the oldest photographs of our village ever taken.
I thought that maybe Kathy was a neighbor who wanted to use the ambrotype for some historical commemorative event—(My same blog post appeared in our local paper.) Or I thought maybe she was a collector who wanted to offer me a small fortune to sell the ambrotype.
So here’s what I replied at 10:22 p.m. on April 6—full of personal information that I should have kept to myself—
You can call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX tomorrow (Thursday). I’ll be in and out all day because I just got back from Florida and am leaving for New York on Friday, so it’s sort of hit or miss as to when I’ll be in. But if I’m out and you leave a number I’ll call you back.
I know you’re thinking that I’ve just fallen off the cabbage truck, and you’d be right--I’m a friendly person from Minnesota and we’re not very suspicious of strangers. That’s why they call it “Minnesota nice.”
Then AFTER hitting “send”, I looked at Google and realized I had put myself, my computer and my family in grave danger. Would some evil apparition out of “Nightmare on Elm Street” come round and break into my house while I was away on the weekend? Would my Mac powerbook explode in my face? Should I change my password?
I knew from reading all the warnings that if Kathy didn’t get a reply, she would send another e-mail later in the day that read “Hello, Hey I didn’t hear back from you. Are you still in business?”
Oddly enough, despite my effluent, chatty answer to her, I got the above e-mail (still in my spam folder) at 5 p.m. on April 7. Naturally I didn’t reply.
On April 8 at 1:32 p.m. I got another message from Kathy, this one with a different subject line: “December—a Rolling Crone: December 2010”. Her one line message this time: “Hello, is it still availible?” [sic]
Now I ‘m not totally naïve—I don’t reply to messages that are marked “Urgent”, “Dearest One”, “Can I trust you?” and “You have won the Lottery”. And I’m suspicious of people who can’t spell or who write in pigeon English. But I wasn’t clever enough to check on Kathy before the damage was done.
I’ve been spending a lot of time wondering what exactly this mysterious correspondent wants from me. I do realize it’s a robot machine sending these e-mails, just phishing—but I can’t figure out what this phisher is going to do with my phone number and e-mail address. At no point has she (It) asked me for any money or more personal information. I don’t have the energy to change my phone number. Some of Kathy’s victims have written that their cell phones went on the fritz shortly after they gave her their number. Is it a curse? An evil techno-eating virus?
Then, on Saturday April 9 at 8:46 p.m. I got a last (I hope) e-mail from Kathy—this one went straight to my in-box, not to the Spam.
Here’s what it said:
“Sorry I think I have the wrong email.
She has been an interesting and persistent correspondent, but I’m hoping that, from now on, Kathy Lagoli is out of my life.