I’m not dead. I’ve just been distracted. My ADD has been in epic form this week and I haven’t gotten anything done with the exception of watching the entire last season of ‘The Bachelorette’ online. Don’t judge me.
Speaking of judging, the rest of this post will explain why there were no cake pictures last week, and in this explanation, I pretty much sound like a moron, so if you have some lovely delusion in your head about how I’m super-smart and generally awesome, please skip this one.
So. Last Friday was a prime example of the luck I have when I brag. I think that technology must have heard me and decided to take me down a notch.
It started off innocently enough. I spent the afternoon struggling with German verbs over coffee with a Sprachduo friend, then headed to a teachers’ meeting at school. After the meeting we had a few beers, and I headed home. I’ll admit that the two beers had gone straight to my head, as all I’d eaten that day was an apricot pastry for lunch and it was now about 11pm. I need to stop doing that. So I swung by the Hauptbahnhof McDonald’s with another teacher to grab dinner, we parted ways, and I headed home.
I popped in the door, started up my computer, began loading an episode of ‘The Bachelorette’ (still judging), and went to the kitchen. I heard the episode start, and then I heard it stop. When I came back to my computer, I found a super scary image much like this one on my screen….
So I panicked. Not the best course of action. Basically it says that illegal activity has been detected on your computer, and you must pay a €100 fine in order to unlock your computer. Admittedly, I’d been watching a disturbing amount of TV online, and I just figured the German police were more vigilant against it. I had heard that before, so I just thought, “hey, you’ve been busted, deal with it.” Stupid. Stupid stupid stupid.
As if that wasn’t enough, this is the part where I look/feel really stupid. In my panicked, 11:30 on a Friday night state, I fell for it. So I ran over to the Shell station near my house, bought one of these PaySafe things, and tried to unlock my computer. It asked for both a PIN number and a password. I had a PIN, but no password, but I tried anyway. Shocker: It didn’t do anything. So I went to bed. The next day, after talking to a friend who alerted me to the fact that I’d probably been hacked, I called the PaySafe people. They said the money had already been paid, and I was not the first person. The scam asks for a password, and some people go buy another one, and continue trying to pay, and it just takes your money with the PIN every time. The woman on the phone was quite nice, and said I should go to the police, but she didn’t know if I’d be able to get my money back even if I did.
So I tried getting hold of friends, and eventually figured out that I could run my computer in safe mode, and could back up to get rid of the thing. Google tells me that this is a scam coming out of Russia somewhere, and is targeting German I.P. addresses. Awesome. It also says that they will probably be launching something similar that will target U.K. and U.S. addresses soon, so watch out. Yep, last weekend was super fun. Like I have an extra hundred Euro to give to some extorting asshat in the Former Soviet Republic of Blackmailisbetterthanworkingistan.*
But eventually I got it sorted. I’d like to send thanks to the lovely couple who were kind enough to meet me at Starbucks last Saturday to try to help me out. But more importantly, I’d like to thank them for drinking with me that night until I forgot that I just lost my hard-earned money. At least until Sunday morning.
*I’m pissed, so political correctness is kind of out the window here. Sorry.