The first concerned calls and emails began arriving around 7:45 a.m. Tuesday. To a person, none of Beth Fager’s friends and colleagues inquiring and credit cards, or that she needed financial help to pay a hotel bill in Madrid.about her welfare really thought she had been robbed at gunpoint of all her cash
At the same time, though, everyone wanted Fager to know her Yahoo email account had been hacked and her name was being used in an obvious scam.
Fager, well-known in Topeka for her civic efforts in helping turn the deteriorating Municipal Auditorium into the Topeka Performing Arts Center, and most recently for her work in restoring the historic Great Overland Station, spent most of what should have been a pleasant vacation day in New Orleans working to secure her hacked email account, as well as assuring well-wishers that she was fine, despite the email to the contrary that carried her name.
“Actually, a lot of it was quite heart-warming,” she said of the expressions of concern. “No one I talked with fell for the scam, and I’m hoping that no one who got the email thought it was true. Still, people were concerned about what was happening.
“The nice thing was, I heard from people I hadn’t visited with in a long time.”
The email sent from Fager’s Yahoo account, however, painted anything but a happy picture.
Her hacker, posing as Fager, said she was writing “with tears in my eyes” after being robbed of everything during an unannounced trip to Spain. Unable to secure help from the Madrid police and American Embassy, the faux Fager needed financial help paying hotel bills and needed a quick loan that would be repaid upon returning home.
Such a tale of financial woe had to have come as unexpected news to Duane Fager, Beth’s husband and president of CoreFirst Bank and Trust who was with his wife in New Orleans.
Contacted by The Topeka Capital-Journal upon receiving the hoax email, Beth Fager was initially hesitant to discuss what she considers an embarrassing situation. But then the woman honored as the 2011 Woman of Distinction by the Topeka chapter of the American Business Women’s Association had second thoughts.
If it can happen to me, she figured, it can happen to anybody. Consequently, she wants the public to know how she fell into a trap in the hope that it might be avoided.
Upon first checking her email upon arriving in New Orleans, Fager saw a message — supposedly from Yahoo — saying her account was about to be terminated unless she logged into the Yahoo system immediately.
“If I’d been at home, I probably would have been more cautious,” she said. “But I was on the road and didn’t want my email suspended while I was on vacation.
“So, I clicked the link. It went to a page that looked exactly like the Yahoo log-in page. I shouldn’t have logged in on it, because that’s how the hacker got my password. I know that now. But, how do you know it’s a fake?”