I was hacked, LMAO

I was hacked, LMAO

BELGİN AKALTAN - belgin.akaltan@hdn.com.tr
I was hacked, LMAO

AFP Photo

“Crazy Belgin, what’s she up to again?” That is what my friend thought when he received an unusual Facebook message from me. But what looked like me was not actually me.  

Yes, this is the story of how I was hacked and how I got my Facebook account back.

I cannot be called computer literate. In fact, I have the minimum possible knowledge to swim in those seas. As a matter of fact, I am very afraid of provoking potential hackers by writing the story of how I was hacked and how I got away with it.

So I want to tell any dear potential hackers that I don’t have money in the bank, I do not have any political importance, my personal information is here, I will tell you everything. My accounts are not worth anything; I am an ordinary human being. Please don’t hack me…

Anyway, it was the other weekend, around 7:58 p.m., when I befriended what looked like a high school classmate. I actually checked her profile before accepting her. We had 21 mutual friends or so. She went to the same university most of my classmates attended. She had a younger picture on her profile but many people prefer to put their younger pictures. So I thought “OK, Handan has a young picture that only distantly resembles her, but it is Handan for sure, with so many mutual friends, the school, etc.”

I was at home. I accepted her request, put my phone in the bedroom and went into the kitchen. While in the kitchen, I heard my phone beeping constantly. I went to check what was happening. Messages and e-mails were pouring in, beep, beep, beeping. Notifications from Facebook and Yahoo were constantly coming.

Immediately, a younger classmate - (How can one have a younger classmate? Well, there was a 20-year break between my bachelor’s degree and my postgraduate studies. Sarp Yelkencioğlu is my classmate but from my master’s class, so he is much younger than me) - called to tell me I had probably been hacked because somebody was conducting weird chats on Facebook under my name.

How much weird? What do you mean? Are you sure? What am I supposed to do? Is she or he asking for money? Yes. I went into a panic.

By that time, he or she or the group had started chatting with several of my Facebook contacts.  
One of my friends thought “Crazy Belgin, what is she up to again?” when the Belgin he was talking to made up a story of how she needed to make a bank transaction, blah blah blah… The money would stay in his account for five minutes then I would retrieve it via “mobile banking.” I would give the instructions of what to do.  

The hacker contacted my former editors, in broken Turkish, with chat acronyms and abbreviations that I hate and never use. I would never say “Nassın? (Howdy)” to my editor. I would always invariably use the plural “you” (“siz” in Turkish).

But it only takes a split second to fool a person. It is a combination of trust, not paying enough attention, being distracted by something else, believing, a moment of lowering the usual guards and skepticism. I don’t know, probably these hackers are experts in this “persuasion moment.” It is through this moment that they deceive.

I remember how years ago two nice teenage girls approached me while I was getting into my car in the parking lot of a large supermarket in Göztepe, Istanbul. I remember how they tricked me into looking for the address of a clinic because their mother was sick. They could not understand my instructions, so I was about to get out of the car and show them. One of the girls’ eyes then changed focus for a split second to look at something behind me, which automatically made me turn my head to see that an even smaller child had taken my backpack from the front passenger seat. I had sneakers on; I was able to get out quickly, run, grab her and take my backpack back, but I had to return to my car because I had left its doors open with the keys on. These were the days when such stories were cliché. I still can’t grasp to this day how I fell into this trap. The two girls looked innocent, like your child’s classmates.

People can distract you for a split second and take your bag, your bank account details, your credit card details, your money. It could happen. So, even though I have difficulty - like everybody else - understanding Professor Karatay and the husband of writer Adalet Ağaoğlu, I do have sympathy. There is a kind of hypnotization…

So do not give your bank account number or credit card number to anybody. Nobody should ask for your password; certainly your friends should not.

How I retrieved my Facebook account, I really don’t know. I must have done the correct things in panic in those hectic 10 minutes, but I don’t know how.

I looked at the chats that the hacker had started with my Facebook contacts, it is very strange to see your own identity stolen. Somebody is writing messages acting as if she or he is you.

For instance, I would never say “nbr?” on any type of media. I use full sentences, proper exclamation marks and correct spellings, always, always, always. I’m a grown up and I have respect for both my mother tongue Turkish and my learned language English. So if you ever receive a shortened, abbreviated message, then you know it is not me.

“Now, answer me quick. Howdy?”

One scary moment during the hacking situation is that this “fake Handan” spoke to me, I mean wrote to me. She or he said that if I had built a Facebook security wall then I would have avoided these things. I believed her. I thought Handan had gotten her account back just like I did and was warning me. No, it was the hacker trying to trick me again. I was about to fall into the trap. I stopped at the last moment before clicking on the link she sent me by email.

“By the way, I need your bank details. I am expecting a transaction. Could it stay in your account for five minutes? Then you will send it to me? Right?” Thanks my friend, much appreciated.