Apparently, the Facebook account of South Jordan restaurateur Adam C. Wheaton was recently hacked by scammers.
Wheaton's one of my Facebook "friends." That is, while I admire him and his work in the dining field, I'm not sure when, how or even if our paths have ever crossed. (As we all know: On Facebook, a friend is a stranger you haven't met yet.)
I'll admit, I'm a big friend-whore on Facebook. I've amassed a lot of "friends" to whom I've never been formally introduced.
Still, I have some friending standards. Before approving a friend request, I do check first to see whether or not the potential friend and I have any FB friends in common. Then, I try to use that information to weed out the most blatant creeps, hookers and publicists. My system is not 100 percent perfect, of course, but I think it works pretty well -- my roster of Facebook friends is, on the whole, a rather high-quality list.
So, early Thursday morning, when a chat message purportedly from Facebook friend Adam C. Wheaton popped up on my browser screen, my first impulse was to believe it was from a real person.
Now, I'm not just anybody's fool. It took me only a moment to realize I was chatting not with the actual restaurant mogul, but with some scammer in Scotland. But, having nothing better to do at the moment, I played along as best I could, to see how much I could screw with the impostor.
Here's the transcript of the chat as it happened the morning of Jan. 5. [Note, the dialog attributed to "Adam C Wheaton" is not from Wheaton at all, but from a hacker impersonating as Wheaton]:
Adam C Wheaton: Hello
> How are you doing?
Brandon Burt: I'm fine. You?
Adam C Wheaton: Glad you responded
> I'm not too good as we speak
Brandon Burt: Sorry to hear that. What's wrong? [At this point, I'm genuinely concerned, in an offhand, online sort of way. Could he be having relationship problems? Or is he distraught by the state of the world? This could be my opportunity to share wisdom, support or kindness! Yeah, I'm that compassionate a guy.]
Adam C Wheaton: My family and i got mugged while vacationing in the Glasgow, Scotland unfortunately we got mugged last night at gun point
Brandon Burt: [Oh, it's that scam. Guess I won't have any opportunity to share any compassionate nuggets of wisdom today. But perhaps some nuggets of sarcasm are in order.]
> Oh, and do you need me to wire some money to you so you can get back home?
Adam C Wheaton: All cash and credit card was stolen off including cell phone, it was a brutal experience
Brandon Burt: I'm so sorry to hear that. Where can I send the cash?
Adam C Wheaton: Yes
Brandon Burt: Give me the details! I won't have you languishing in Glasgow for one more minute if I can help it!!!
Adam C Wheaton: Receivers Name: Adam Wheaton
> Location: 556 St Vincent Str, Glasgow, G2 5NT, Scotland (United Kingdom)
Brandon Burt: Hello?
Adam C Wheaton: 980$
> got it?
Brandon Burt: Yes, that sounds very plausible.
Adam C Wheaton: How long will it take you to have it done?
Brandon Burt: I could put a money order in the U.S. Mail tomorrow morning. I think it should get to that Scotland address within a week or so.
Adam C Wheaton: I will appreciate you have it wired Via Western Union
> All you need is the name and my present location
Brandon Burt: Oh, would that be more convenient?
Adam C Wheaton: Do you know any western union outlet or store closer to you?
Brandon Burt: No, I don't. Can you help me with that?
Adam C Wheaton: You can locate online visit www.westernunion.com/locator
Brandon Burt: Oh, thank you very much. That is very helpful. Now, I just have one more question.
> Are you sure $980 is enough? I'm not sure how you'll get your family home on less than a few thousand dollars.
Adam C Wheaton: 980 will be okay
> that's all I need at the moment
Brandon Burt: The only thing is that I had drinks with you two nights ago at your restaurant. [Disclosure: This is a total lie.] And you never mentioned anything about an upcoming Scotland trip. Is everything OK? The trip seems so sudden ...
Adam C Wheaton: Am freaked out
> have you seen a western union outlet yet?
Brandon Burt: Oh, yes. There's one down the block. So why did you have to go to Scotland so suddenly?
Adam C Wheaton: New Year Trip...try and understand my present situation
> I will brief you in full as soon as we're back home
Brandon Burt: Oh, OK. I'll be sure and get right down there when the office opens in two hours.
Adam C Wheaton: ok
Brandon Burt: In the meantime, is it really true what they say about most Glaswegian men being homosexuals?
Adam C Wheaton: Can you please send me a test mail just in case I'm not online I will appreciate you email me the Western Union Confirmation Control Number cos that's all I need to pick up the money over here with my passport ID
Brandon Burt: Sure. What's the e-mail address?
Adam C Wheaton: email@example.com
Brandon Burt: OK. The confirmation number is the phone number of the Western Union office, right? I'll send it right over to your yahoo address.
> Did you get it?
Adam C Wheaton: Not yet
Brandon Burt: Well my e-mail is slow. So, about those Glaswegian men ... mostly gay, right?
> I mean, those kilts. Am I right?
> Am I right?
Adam C Wheaton: Don't know
> am freaked out
Brandon Burt: You must be freaked out, impersonating a random Facebook profile. Do you really feel good about this career choice of yours?
> I mean, the U.K. has free health care and everything, and you're picking on us American suckers who have to pay like $10,000 to get a tooth extracted?
[Insufficient send permissions: You don't have permission to chat with this person.]
Our chat session abruptly ended with the above message. To his credit, the scammer failed to respond to my blatant homophobe-baiting.
The next day, I couldn't find Wheaton's profile anywhere on Facebook. I suppose he took his profile down after he discovered it had been hacked. Of course, the worst-case scenario is that Wheaton actually was mugged in Glasgow and I was fucking around with a genuine nice-guy victim. But I don't think so, and I wish the real Adam C. Wheaton the best of luck resolving this strange problem.
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