Break the Chain Jack and the Been Stalked

Exclusive (11/19/2001) One hard and fast rule of e-mail chain letters is that good advice is always more believed if it seems to come out of a real, first-person experience. While the advice in this chain is good, the cyber-stalking story is suspect.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

I received this excellent letter explaining the perils and solutions to forwarding mail. I hope you'll take the pointers here to heart.

Subject: A WARNING

Please read this and get in the habit of sending e-mails this way.

This is so true I know many of you that I can go through your e-mails and see who else you are communicating with online -This is some good advice, it doesn't take long to do, plus it gets rid of all those. Many of you are already doing this, just something to pass along to your friends.

Some of you have taken to forwarding posts or other interesting write-ups to others. Please read this story below, and take this lady's suggestion to clean out the headers before you send mail off. It's pretty scary, and to erase others' addresses from forwarded mail is such a simple thing to do. I received this message today from a friend. It really is an important message for me to forward on because I have noticed that many of my friends send me things that they have received from other friends. While it seems easy to just click forward and put our friend's names in the TO field of our email program's address box, it really is a dangerous thing to do. This story illustrates just how dangerous it can be. Please read it. I am placing these instructions before the story so that you will how know to forward your email in the future. Before you forward this message or any other message to someone, please do the following:

(NOT HARD TO DO).

1. REMOVE all email addresses that were forwarded or sent to you on the message. Use the delete key, or the editing functions on your email program after you hit the Forward key.

2. DO NOT use the TO field to send the mail on. USE the BCC field. This means "Blind Carbon Copy". It will list only the name of each individual receiver on the email. NOBODY ELSE'S email address will be shown. TO USE BCC: Simply click BCC instead of TO. It works just the same. If you add names from your address book, just add them to the BCC field instead of the TO field. As an added bonus of using this feature, your email message won't have all those addresses at the beginning. No one will have to scroll through the addresses to get to the message that you have sent. Please take the time to read this. It could prove to be very important. > >The following individual asked not to be identified, but she asked that this letter be forwarded to anyone who does not bcc (blind carbon copy) online... and to spread the word.

THE TRUE STORY Late one evening, while online, I received an IM (Internet message) from a gentleman who said he knew me through mutual pals online.

We chatted for an hour or so before deciding to keep in touch, as we had so many things in common. I eventually, after a week or so of knowing him, trusted him with my name (first name) and phone number; after all, he knew my friends and I felt he must have been ok if they all liked and knew him.

He knew a lot about them, he knew a lot about me, and he knew a lot about a lot! He seemed like such a nice person, a pleasant person, and someone whom I felt very comfortable sharing my time online (and on the phone) with.

One night, a friend from our group of friends invited me to a chat room where several of the friends had gathered and were chatting when this gentleman popped into the chat room. He popped in and then left quickly. Then, for the first time since I met and started chatting with him, I mentioned him to one of the friends who was in the chat room one whom this gentleman claimed association with. She was in total awe, she did not know who he was!

things were beginning to look really suspicious. The more she and I chatted, the more suspicious it became. It also became apparent that this guy knew none of us. Suddenly, he disappeared offline for a few days...then one day he pops back in and sends >me an IM saying that we need to talk. He called me at my home and I was very upset, so I asked him how he really found me and why he had felt the need to lie in the first place. This is where you all need to pay attention: He told me that he spotted my screen name on a forward that one of my friends sent to someone else. My screen name is what attracted him. He then used the screen name of others on the list of forwards to acquaint himself with me and various others from our clique of friends. He also used the member directory (at AOL) to look up info about others on the list of forwards, so not to look suspicious. He said he felt it was the only way he would have the chance to get to know me, and the main attraction to me was "My Screen name" because he thought it was "sexy!"

I was upset, needless to say, as I had trusted this man with my personal info... such as phone number and name. He also knew where I lived (thanks to the phone bill) and I was now his prey! A few days after having last talked to this person and thinking that was the last of him, I received a phone call at 4:00 a.m., it has this man telling me he was in town to see a friend who lived 20 minutes from my house, and wanted to know if I would like to meet him for coffee or breakfast . When I told him it was not such a good idea, he became irate and hung up on me. I immediately called him back caller ID) and explained to him that my husband was back home (trying to scare him) and please not be so mad( in fear of him and what he might do).

Telling him that my husband had returned and we were reconciling was a lie, and I told him this to make him think I was not alone! Imagine the feeling I felt in the pit of my stomach when he came back with the following response "You're a lying bitch, your husband is not there with you...you are alone!" I hung up on him and immediately called the Broward County Sheriff's office and told them what had happened. They sent an officer over to take a report and said that was really all they could do for me at that time.

So, I packed few belongings into my car, and drove to my sister's home for the night. Fifteen or twenty minutes after I arrived at her home, I received a phone call from this man again! He knew I called the Sheriff and reported him, he knew where I was and he knew my sister and her husband's names!

People, let me tell you something, this man had been stalking me for weeks and I had no idea! I walked, ate, slept and breathed in constant fear until he was finally arrested for stalking! Not for stalking me! Nope! For stalking another lady who lived in Kendall, FL. I wanted to share this with you all.

And yes, it is all true. Friends, when you forward things and you leave your friends names out in plain view like that, you are putting THEM and YOURSELF in what could be grave danger. I hope I have gotten this message across; as I have not even begun to mention his assault (rape, using deadly force)charges the detectives from Broward County and Kendall, FL uncovered on him while investigating his prior history!! People, please! Be safe, be careful and BLIND CARBON COPY(BCC)! This is NOT a joke and NOT a hoax.

PLEASE REMEMBER: It is Important to *remove ALL personal email when forwarding items from this, or any other list to individuals or other discussion groups (unless the message asks readers to contact them via email or phone).Remember, a lot of us have a great deal of information in our sig's (signature files that appear at the bottom of many of our messages).

In addition, the blind carbon copy (Bcc) option makes the individuals you send email to unseen by all other recipients E-mailers should also cut out email addresses from forwards when forwarding the message on. I know I have received unsolicited e-mails from individuals who have gotten my address via a forwarded message from this group. Although more annoying than serious, it could have been worse."

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

I found this message reproduced on a variety of web sites from computer user groups, to forums, to humor pages. None of them comes any closer to identifying the real author of the piece. Most who post it say they "got it from a subscriber," or something similar, but that could just as easily mean it was forwarded by the subscriber, rather than written by him or her.

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The story has been circulating since 1999. The Broward County Sheriff's Department and the Kendall, Florida Police both failed to respond to my requests for verification. With no names or time frame to work with, it's hard to confirm the events as they are told here. However, such a stalking attack is possible and certainly does occur.

The advice in the letter is good and should be heeded. This is just one of the reasons Break the Chain exists. E-mail is the party line (remember those) of the information age. While you may think your communications are secure, they never are. Just by sending a mail, your e-mail address is added to the message in a section called the Header. While the header may or may not be hidden from you by your e-mail reader, it is always there. When you send a message using the TO: field to address it, all of the addresses you enter are also added to the header. In oft-forwarded messages, the header can grow to several pages and contain thousands of e-mail addresses (the virtual paper trail of everyone who has sent and/or received the message over time).

Many e-mail programs also automatically attach your name and other information to the message as a type of signature. Combined with an e-mail address, this may be all the information needed for a dedicated stalker to locate you.

There are a couple of problems with the implication that using the BCC: field will protect you from stalkers. BCC: allows you to address the message without the adressees' identities being added to the header. However, it does not protect the sender, only the recipients. Furthermore, many e-mail programs "hide" the BCC: field from you. Microsoft's Outlook Express, for example has only the TO: and CC: fields in their "send mail" window. To access BCC:, you'll have to change the default view settings or use the Address Book.

Does it happen a lot? No, but it does happen. Stalking is a real danger. E-mail is a bad place to get advice about it. However, this page offers similar advice without the sensational (and questionable) "true story." Break this chain!

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Category: General Junk
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