Fake News

While I’m really bad at a lot of things – understanding most technology and being able to help my grandkids with math being only two of them – I’m pretty darn good at spelling and grammar. It seems like you either have it or you don’t. Our grandson Alastair, for example, is an excellent speller. One day when they were a bit younger and I was babysitting, his sister was having trouble with her spelling list. The words, I thought, were quite difficult. Alastair – in that way that only big brothers can torture their sisters – was pointing out just how EASY those words were to spell.

“Really, Mr. Smarty-Pants?” I said to him. “Spell burglar.”

“B-U-R-G-L-A-R,” he said without hesitation.

Rats. I was just certain her would get the A-R part wrong.

Anyway, life can be a bit trying when you are a good speller, because frankly, many signs in restaurants and other businesses offer a variety of misspellings. Notable examples are tomatoe instead of tomato, zucinni instead of zucchini, and avacado instead of avocado.

“Do I have to be the world’s editor?” I often ask my husband.

I recently came up with an idea that could be a win-win situation for certain criminally-minded people and me. I think I should — for a price — offer to correct spelling and grammar in those fake emails we all get from fake banks offering fake help if you will click on their fake link. As you are probably aware, clicking on those links leads to something bad. I’m not sure what because I’m pretty good at recognizing a fraudulent solicitation when I see it. Hence, my services would be invaluable.

Read, for example, this email that appeared recently in my inbox. I have replicated it exactly…..


Hi %%First Name %%,

[INSERT NAME] Has Been Selected to Participate in a *FHA* Refi Survey! Take the quiz and see if your’re eligible to save $1000 on your mortgage!

StartThe Quiz!

To opt-out of receiving emails from Low Rates Shop, please send your name and email address to Low Rates Shop 909 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Segundo, CA 90245 or click here!

Now, for a fee, I would tell them that rather than saying HI [INSERT NAME], I would recommend they actually, well, insert the name. I might lose the percentage signs while I’m at it. And perhaps most important of all, leave off an exclamation point or two.

Here’s another one I recently received from a bank called Sun Trust…..

During our usual security enhancement protocol, we observed multiple login attempt error which login in to your online banking account. We have believed that someone other than you is trying to access your account for security reasons, we have temporarily suspend your account and your access to online banking and will be restricted if you fail to update.

Please click here to continue using your account. Thank you for banking with Sun Trust.

What? I would suggest to Fake Sun Trust (for a fee) that perhaps they incorporate a couple more periods in their email so that I could at least make sense of what it is they are trying to fake.

I don’t actually want to be hired by the crooks who prey on innocent people. The examples above are so obvious that it’s hard for me to believe that anyone would fall for them. However, I get emails that are far more convincing. I get fake emails from Wells Fargo – a bank with which I actually have a business relationship – that are quite convincing except for one grammatical error. They, like most of the emails, tell me that there have been multiple attempts at logging onto my account, and then they tell me that I should click on the link and they will come to my rescue. However, the concluding sentence is the giveaway:


Neither Alastair nor his Nana would fall for a sentence that ended in “that.”

Keep your head in the game when looking at those emails you and I probably get four or five times a week. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Thursday Thoughts


Jessie, second from the left with her Capstone Project group, is still and always, little.

Would You Like Ketchup With That?
When my niece Jessie was a little girl (well, arguably, she’s still a little girl, though in her 20s. A good wind could blow her away.) Anyhoo, when asked what she wanted for lunch, she might say a plain hotdog. In fact, the first time she asked me for a plain hotdog, I — quite reasonably, I think — placed a weiner into a bun and handed it to her. No ketchup or mustard. No onions or pickle relish or chili. A weiner and a bun. No, I want a plain hotdog, she said firmly. I eventually came to understand that for her, a plain hotdog meant a hotdog bun. Period. No weiner. No ketchup. No mustard. A bun. This is the same girl who, along with her sister Kacy, would go through the salad bar and place croutons on the plate, douse the croutons with ranch dressing and call it a salad. Like bread much? I thought about this recently as I served Cole a hot dog in his preferred style…..


Autumn Leaves
September is perhaps my favorite month of the year. I like that the days are still warm, but nights start to cool off. I like that I can without guilt give up on my flowers and let them play out until they give up the goat. I like the changing leaves. I was recently at a nearby park and saw this beautiful maple tree that is just starting to turn…..


And yet, I find that the fall has a bit of a melancholy feel to it. Perhaps it’s the flip side of all of those things that I just listed that I like. Click on this link and tell me if Nat King Cole doesn’t make you tear up.

My sister Jen and I recently had a conversation about a woman she knows who, she said, is perhaps the worst dishwasher loader ever. This is in contrast to my daughter-in-law Alyx, who can load a dishwasher so efficiently that I think she could make it hold every dish I own. Unfortunately, here is a picture I took of the dishwasher after I loaded it recently. I’m not proud of it, my friends…..


Phresh Phish
I had lunch the other day, and as usual, paid for it with my credit card with no problems. However, as I walked to my car, I got a text message that indicated my credit card (they named the bank that issued it) had a problem, and requested that I call the toll-free number provided. Since I had just used the card, I felt that it was reasonable that there really could be a problem. I was just about to press the number they provided, when I heard (in my head) my husband’s voice saying, “Never assume the number they give in a text or email is safe. Instead, always call the number on the card. And so I did. And I learned that there wasn’t a thing wrong with my card. The customer service representative complimented me on being a wise consumer, and told me the text was undoubtedly phishing. Not only am I proud of myself for not falling for their dirty tricks, I’m also proud that I know the correct way to spell p-h-i-s-h. Don’t mess with me, tricksters. I wasn’t born yesterday. And now, if you’ll excuse me, there is a Nigerian prince who has asked for my help.