On the Case

March 30, 2010 - 9:38 am

I used to think that the phrase “cold sweat” was just a hackneyed expression, a handy phrase for lazy writers—like “biting rain” or “bitter cold.” But I was wrong, as I discovered yesterday when I sat at my desk, reading a forwarded  e-mail from someone named Anna Miller who was pitching ad space for an expensive, high-profile online marketing campaign.  

The cold sweat didn’t start until I read the signature at the bottom:

Anna Miller
Purchasing Agent
Fitzgerald Communications
450 S. Main Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan

That’s when the icy sweat began to collect under my arms, on my forehead, along my thighs.  

I read the signature block again. And again. And again. Thinking I must be caught in some old Twilight Zone episode.

Here was someone I’d never heard of.  Using my company name. My company address. Even my web site, with one slight difference:  the domain was .net instead of .com.

I clicked on it.  Yup. It was my company web site alright. Hijacked.

The cold sweat began to accumulate. I found myself trembling slightly.

Then I got to work. Called the phone number below Anna’s name. Got a busy signal. Looked it up online.  Found that it was unpublished but belonged to a land line in Ann Arbor.  I tracked down the owner of the domain—a man, giving a false name no doubt, in Atlanta. I looked up the server and learned it was located in  the U.K.

Finally, still sweating, I called my web developer.  He was slightly perplexed at the level of personalization in the scam but obviously fascinated. Within half an hour, he had tracked down the host location. Russia. Which explained those long visits from Ukraine I’d been seeing on my Google Analytics page. Next, he helped me lodge a  formal complaint with the UK server and  devised a code that would “break the frame” or as he explained it, automatically reroute visitors from the illegal web site. Fifteen minutes more and he had posted an alert on every page of my web site:


If you have received a recent e-mail using Fitzgerald Communications’ name and address, and inviting you to participate in an online marketing campaign, be advised that it is a scam. The web site address appearing on these e-mails is: fitzgeraldcommunications.net. To date, we have determined that this domain originates in China and is hosted in Russia.

We are pursuing measures to have the illegal web site taken down immediately. In the meantime, we apologize for any inconvenience.

It was early afternoon before the cold sweat finally and completely disappeared.  And yet in a way it still lingers, in the form of a vague paranoia and a nervous aversion to Firefox  and Safari.

In a weird way, I suppose I should be grateful for this rough Russian education.

All is not well  in cyberspace. Life is not sweet and good and beneficent on the worldwide web.  Universal access to information is not for free.  It can cost you your identity, your reputation. Or at the very least, your time, energy and money as you work to remediate the damage.

I hope you all manage to avoid the kind of cyber-mugging I experienced yesterday.  To borrow yet another hackneyed phrase (this one from my old high school theater teacher),  “forewarned  is forearmed.”


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March 23, 2010 - 10:54 am

Every now and then the Universe drops a little gift in my lap. Or, in this case, on the floor of my office. Today's present must have been dislodged a few days ago when I was cleaning off my desk.

Somehow the tattered little bits of paper became wedged under one of the desk legs, in the shadows. And this morning, for whatever reason, I noticed them. Or maybe they chose to draw my attention.

 Whatever the cause and effect, it turned out to be a list of "How To's" from an ancient presentation by Wayne Dyer. Normally, I'm not a big fan of his. But  what he said must have impressed me at the time, because I took notes.

 In some native cultures, there's a rule that "the gift must always move." I believe that . So, in the spirit of keeping the gift moving, and with apologies to those of you who prefer to steer clear of what my friend Judy refers to as Woo-Woo Land, here are Wayne's rules for life-- some of them pretty good, most of them things you already know, and all of them hard to do on a continual basis:

  1. Want more for others than you want for yourself.
  2. Think from the end, believe "It's already here."
  3. Be an appreciator.
  4. Seek out that which is valuable rather than that which is worthless.  
  5. Stay in rapport with Source energy. Your job here is to be in harmony with life.
  6. Understand resistance and know that every inharmonious thought takes you away from the truth.
  7. Never forget that you are one with the Source.
  8. Understand the art of allowing yourself to take the path of least resistance and pull energy from the Source on your way.
  9. Practice radical humility.
  10. Remember that you are not your body.
  11. Be in a constant state of gratitude; be always generous and appreciative. 
  12. Remind yourself that you can never resolve a problem by condemning it; shame is the lowest form of energy.
  13. Play the Match Game: am I matched up with the larger field of intention?
  14. Meditate.
  15. Throughout the day, remind yourself to stay connected to the Source.
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January 22, 2010 - 11:53 am

When he isn't creating crossword puzzles or meeting with clients or teaching his classes or savoring the latest installment of "24" or doing favors for people, my friend David Horowitz likes nothing better than to dive into a good book. In a recent e-mail, he shared his latest discovery--which I now share with you:

I'm in the midst of reading a mystery thriller, "Bone By Bone" by Carole O'Connell, and it's really interesting. She writes the Mallory series. This book is an eerie look at a mystery in a small California town, and she does an amazing job of unraveling the mystery bit by bit.


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January 20, 2010 - 1:50 pm

This morning's NPR newscast was particularly bleak. There was the continuing horror of Haiti, complicated now by a wickedly strong aftershock. There was the passing of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat to a former Cosmo centerfold, a gift to America from the enlightened voters of Massachusetts.

And then there was the startling announcement that Robert Parker had died suddenly at his writing desk.

Robert Parker. Dead.

Impossible to think that we'll never again be treated to "the newest" Spenser novel.  Because Parker was not only prolific but endlessly entertaining, readers knew they could count on him for a good tale--every time. And always with the moral undertone that marked a true heir to Chandler and Hammett and (Ross) McDonald. 

But if he had to go, it's hard to think of a better, kinder, easier way to leave: at his writing desk.

 Godspeed, Robert. You'll be missed. 

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