Up until recently, she thought she knew who was sending them because the e-mail address is that of a woman she knows. McCook filed a harassment prevention order against that woman, who adamantly said the e-mails weren’t from her.
“I didn’t believe it because her name was clearly on the emails,” said McCook.
When the e-mails kept comping, McCook had the woman arrested, but while the alleged sender was in police custody, McCook got another e-mail. That’s when she knew something was up.
“I found out I was receiving emails when she couldn’t possibly have been sending them,” said McCook, “so I paid to have someone look into it, and that’s when I found out about spoofing.”
Stan Prager at GoGeeks Computer Rescue in East Longmeadow says spoofing software is illegal and most commonly used by criminals to duplicate a website and defraud people, but he says in rare cases like McCook’s, it can be used to mimic someone’s phone number and e-mail address.
“Anybody can get it, needs very little training needed to make it work for you, and you can really harass someone and ruin their life,” said Prager.
Prager says the software has been around for years, but became more common as the internet and download speeds got faster.
McCooks still feels horrible for having an innocent woman arrested.
“Why would someone want to cause harm to somebody or see people go to jail because of this,” she said.
She has since changed her e-mail, and just changed her phone number for the 9th time, but says the harassment hasn’t stopped. All she can do is wait for the private investigator she’s hired to hopefully track down the I.P. address of the culprit. Meantime, the woman who McCook originally accused, says she’s getting threatening e-mails now from someone posing as McCook.
Anyone can become a victim of this, but there are a few things you can do to protect yourself. Make sure you have good security installed on your computer. You also want to have multiple e-mail accounts, especially since these days, you give out your e-mail for almost everything. Finally, don’t post your e-mail on social media sites like Facebook. You’re just asking for trouble.