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'I feel violated'

Samuda says hacked e-mail further fuels his support for cybercrime, anti-scamming law

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter dunkleya@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, March 22, 2013    

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OPPOSITION Member of Parliament and businessman Karl Samuda says the hacking of his personal e-mail by an unknown source left him feeling violated, further fuelling his support of cybercrime and anti-scamming legislation now before the parliament.

"My support for those two bits of legislation is a given; it has heightened my support. I am still in the process of taking corrective action," Samuda told the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, persons on Samuda's contact list received mail from the former industry minister under the Jamaica Labour Party administration, telling them that he was stranded during an unannounced trip to the Philippines where he, along with others, had been "mugged by some unknown gunmen".

"I am sorry for reaching you rather too late due to our trip was unannounced. I could not inform anyone about our trip, because it was impromptu... All cash and credit cards was taken off us including some valuables, thank God they didn't hurt anyone or take our passports. Right now we are in a financial mess due to unable to settle bills owed at the hotel," the e-mail supposedly sent by Samuda said.

"We have reported to the local authorities and have also contacted the consulate but was told to hang on for couple of days before this mess can be straightened out and the worst of it all is our return flight leaves in few hours.

"At this time I really need your utmost attention to resolve this mess. All we need is ($1,550.00) but don't know how much you would be able to spare. I promise to refund you every dime owed as soon as I return... Please write back so i can let you know how to get some money to me....," it said further.

When contacted by the Observer Wednesday, the Opposition member had already learnt of his supposed misfortune.

"I am just learning that my e-mail has been hacked into and all the people who are on my mailing list are calling me that my e-mail has been broken into. All my contacts have gotten, but apparently they have attacked me from two angles, they have said in one case that I am in Nigeria

and the other that I am in Manila," Samuda said.

The former commerce minister said while he had taken some initial corrective action, he was still wary.

"I don't know if that will do it. Obviously, I am a little perplexed. If I am to be honest because I am not sufficiently familiar with this kind of thing to determine how they got into my contact list . You can only get into my contact list via my e-mail so they have actually hacked in and taken control of my e-mail," he said.

"I am going to terminate my use of Yahoo until I am fully aware of how to safeguard my information because having gone into my contacts it means they have access to my e-mail as well. I consider this very serious and I am going to take steps to protect the confidentiality of my e-mails and all the data that I have," Samuda told the Observer.

He believes the attack was carried out by persons outside the island.

"It appears to me that it doesn't even matter where they do it from because obviously whomever did it would not have had the knowledge that I was in Parliament and seen on television yesterday (Tuesday) so it would have been very strange for me to be on my way there and had all these strange things happen to me while I was in Jamaica yesterday," he reasoned.

Asked how he felt about the incident, he said, "I am going to be honest with you, when that happens you actually feel a sense of violation. In other words, for someone to be in control of your confidential data and to go in search of revenue or income through solicitation to those persons who you have as your contacts it's quite a sobering experience".

"One of the first persons to call me was a former executive member at the Ministry of Commerce when I was minister. I was really quite concerned about the whole thing because the truth of the matter is one doesn't know where it goes from here," he said, adding that the individual/s were savvy enough to send the request via an e-mail remarkably close to his to avoid being detected by him when the reply was sent by his contacts.

"They have gotten the information about my contact list, but sent the message from an e-mail address close to mine... so an unsuspecting contact would not notice (that the address is not truly mine) but the information would go to them and not to me and they would be duped without my knowledge," he said.

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