It’s been a wild couple of days. On Tuesday at about 2 pm my gmail account was hacked. Many of you received email messages from me almost immediately requesting urgent assistance. In the course of a couple of days about 300 of you either emailed (on my work account), text messaged, FB messaged, tweeted, or called me. Along with the assistance of Rose, our Parish Administrator, we began immediately trying to secure my account. Not so fast. The Hacker changed all of the security questions. This meant that it would take a couple of days for Google to ascertain that I was who I said I was and that secure my account. In the meantime, the calls from all of you kept coming. The upside of this ordeal was reconnecting with so many of you. The downsides were plenty. I had no idea how much havoc this would create. I had to get three computers scanned, change all the passwords on all of the accounts of all of the things I do online. Then there was the realization that many might be trying to communicate with me and I was unaware of it, because someone else was pretending to be me. But worst of all was the worry that someone might fall for this guy’s scam and send money to Malaysia. I even got an email at my work address looking for funds. When I emailed him/her back offering a piece of my mind I was sent this email back…

You called yourself a Rev and you are saying such statement.. If you need your account back talk to me and we will do something about it instead of you saying bad words a pastor is not meant to say.

To be fair, I did use some strong language! But really… the people using my stolen identity to solicit money from the innocent giving me a lecture on upright behaviour….too much!

By this morning the hacker had turned his/her attention to me. If I would simply hand over $2500 I could have my account back.

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A few moments later in a follow up email the hacker showed his/her reasonable side with a one word email…. “Negotiable.”

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How utterly kind of this internet fraudster. Calls had already been placed to RCMP and the London Police Service – but these crimes are hard to do anything about.

Thank God for Carolyn Marshall – My colleague Marty Lesvesque’s partner – who works with Google and helped move the process along. Shortly after being bribed this morning Google sent along the link necessary to reclaim my account. Again, with the help of Rose Perry, Parish Administrator extraordinaire, I was able to retrieve my contact lists and emails.  I owe a debt of gratitude to both Carolyn and Rose for getting me up and running again.

So my email is now back in my hands and is secure. That said, I offer a word of caution to look closely at emails from me for the next little bit. The Hacker created an email that looks a lot like mine — there is an ‘i’ insterted in the middle of it – In any event I am glad to be clear of said hacker. Best advice? If you have gmail – go change your sign in to a two step process. You can do so by going here – In the meantime – no matter what your email server is – change your password regularly and make passwords that are difficult. Use numbers and letters, uppercase and lowercase. And make certain the password you have for your email is used only for that and not for anything else you do online. —- Just sayin’

Thanks everyone  for all the prayers, calls and messages everyone – it really helped!