Authorities are investigating if a Philadelphia man died because criminals believed his wife was actually holding $60,000 in a photo he posted. It was a joke—dollar bills surrounded by twenties—and it may have cost his life.
The story is a sad one that unfolded earlier this month. The fact that a 50-year-old family man would die because of a tongue-in-cheek post about his wife’s shopping habits speaks volumes about how secure anything is on line. It’s also making me look twice at those long-lost high school chums I have on my “friends” list. I suggest you do the same, not because they’ll visit in the night, but their comment-trolling “friends” could.
Criminals pre-qualifying targets or spotting opportunity on social media isn’t anything new. I wrote about one incident before, although the details uncovered during that case are enough to make your hair stand on end.
I’m no expert in online security, but I do employ some common-sense self-defense mechanisms. If you have other tips that might benefit readers, please offer them in the comments section.
I don’t tell people when I’m on a trip and my wife is alone. I also don’t broadcast when the house is empty and unguarded. I’ll tell you about the camping trip, ballgame or dinner later.
My friends also never know if I purchase anything valuable enough to pawn. I might make an exception for a new car, which is tough to hide. I’m fond of my truck with 300,000 miles, though, so that won’t be anytime soon. I may be a gunwriter, but that policy also includes firearms. Ask any of my “friends,” and I’m sure they’re convinced I’ve never brought home a new gun—those are usually posted on my Fear and Loading Facebook fan page, with no address, etc.
Facebook doesn’t need to know my birthday (think identity theft) and if anyone really cares they’ll remember without an on-line reminder. On my personal account I live in a beachfront cottage in Hell, Cayman Islands. What college education? My real friends and family know better and don’t care.
I don’t post a lot of personal information on Facebook, but when I do it’s often of my 163-pound, 10 fps, ballistic Great Dane named Sniper. He was on overwatch duty last holiday season, and all my social-media “friends” knew it before we left for the evening.
Security settings on that website change faster than relief pitchers in post-season baseball, so I check often. Other sites, like LinkedIn, etc., each have bits and pieces of the information and I surmise if anyone was really interested they could cobble together enough that I’d be in trouble. But, that’s the point—I’m not going to make it easy by providing a play-by-play description of my life, my precise whereabouts or what’s in the house to steal so you can plan the moving van size needed when I’m on vacation. Make it tough enough and they should move on to easier targets.
Before you call me unsocial and paranoid, there are some photos I post often. I have this goofy Great Dane that some of my “friends” find entertaining. His name is Sniper and instead of being trained to “fetch,” from a puppy he was taught to go after something when I say, “Send it.” It’s the joking call a spotter makes at Gunsite’s long-distance course when someone is waiting too long to take a shot. He weighs 163 pounds now and I can’t wait to enter that into a police report.