Hacking out a doppelganger

Fifteen days ago, Gordie Tentrees was cloned. The Yukon musician had his identity stolen by a Hotmail hacker. All 3,500 of his contacts got a message: "Hi, I am Sorry I didn't inform you about my travel to Europe for...

The Yukon musician had his identity stolen by a Hotmail hacker.

All 3,500 of his contacts got a message:

“Hi, I am Sorry I didn’t inform you about my travel to Europe for a seminar, am presently in England-London now, and please am stranded here because of a robbery incident in the hotel where I lodge. All the money and my traveling documents were stolen in my hotel room except my international passport. Please I want you to urgently assist me with a soft loan of £1.800 Pounds to sort-out my hotel bills and pay for my return ticket, Please if you can not afford the entire amount I Gordie will appreciate whatever you can afford to send to me, I promise as soon as am back I will Pay the money back to you. Please kindly look for western union and send me what you can afford with this information below….”

You get the idea.

Since the message was sent out, Tentrees has received almost 200 calls from friends in the UK, Australia, Canada and the US.

“Half the people are musicians who are more broke than me,” he said with a laugh.

So far, he hasn’t heard of anyone actually sending money.

But some people are naive, he said.

Tentrees has contacted Western Union to inform it that any money orders arriving for him should be held.

Tentrees tried to contact Hotmail to report the problem.

He sent e-mails and left phone messages.

“But in 15 business days, no one has responded,” he said.

The hacker hit Tentrees while he was performing in Alaska.

He received an e-mail featuring a Hotmail banner informing him his account was being hacked. The sender said he needed to confirm his password.

“There was contact info and the Hotmail banner,” he said.

Tentrees gave the password. Game over.

The next day, he was locked out of his account.

“This is January, I’m booking festivals for the summer and signing contracts,” he said. “And I have contract templates in there and agreements—all kinds of personal information for putting out a new album, including artwork (for the CD).

“Having everything gone—completely wiped out—it feels like a huge mountain.

“For any independent business person that relies on this stuff to have a business, it would be a nightmare because you’re just shut right out.”

After notifying Hotmail his account was hacked, Tentrees did get an e-mail from the company.

It wanted his credit card number to verify his account belonged to him.

“But after what happened, I’m not giving them that,” said Tentrees.

“It might not even have been Hotmail.”

Using information from his account, the hacker(s) have also contacted Tentrees’ CD distributors demanding payout for his albums.

“I have everything on that e-mail account,” he said, mentioning folders of receipts, resumes, posters and old photos.

“Every two minutes, I think of something else that’s on there,” he said.

All Tentrees wants now is the account shut down.

But Hotmail is not responding.

“Facebook responds in 20 minutes and Hotmail hasn’t responded in 15 business days,” he said.

Contacting Hotmail is next to impossible, said Whitehorse-based New West Technologies customer service manager Paul Scholz.

“It’s nice to have the ability to do all that free stuff with Hotmail, or Gmail or Yahoo, but you’re never dealing with a human being—and as soon as you bring the human element into it, all bets are off,” he said.

“But when you have a smaller company like Northwestel, or WHTV that knows its client-base, it’s easier for clients to reach out and say, ‘Something has happened to my account, what’s going on?’

“Where with Hotmail you’re dealing with a mega-corporation, backed by Microsoft, and it’s near impossible—though it shouldn’t be—to prove who you say you are, and not the person who’s nefariously gained all your details.”

Tentrees situation is a “user beware,” said Scholz.

“There are people who will send things to your e-mail account saying they’re your bank and need to confirm your details, just like they’ll phone you and say, we need your details and credit card number.

“I don’t know—with technology being what it is—if it makes it easier for people to get scammed like this, but it’s an unfortunate reality of the 21st century.”

Contact Genesee Keevil at gkeevil@yukon-news.com