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Commentary by Dr. Ramon Presson: How to Repay an Identity Thief

I have the picture-perfect life—one that international celebrities only dream about so I completely understand why someone in Botswana would want to be me. Stealing a wallet is so 1970s. Stealing an identity by hacking into an e-mail account shows understanding of current technology and contemporary causes of anxiety.

Last Monday morning every living person on the planet (and a few deceased ones) got the following e-mail from “me”:

“Dear friend, I really hope you get this fast. I could not inform anyone about my trip, because it was impromptu. I had to be in Philippines for a program an my journey has turned sour. I misplaced my wallet on my way back to the hotel i lodge in after i went for sight seeing. The wallet contained all the valuables things i have. Now, my passport is in custody of the hotel management pending when i make payment.

I am sorry if i am inconveniencing you, but i have only very few people to run to now. i will be indeed very grateful if i can get loan of $1800  from you. this will enable me sort our hotel bills and get my sorry self back home. I will really appreciate whatever you can afford in assisting me with just let me know what you can afford. I promise to refund it in full as soon as I return. Thank you.”

I learned of this cyber-attack when every living person on the planet (and a few I wish were deceased) began calling, texting, e-mailing, and Facebooking me. You find out how many true friends you have when you are stranded in a Filipino hotel without your passport and wallet and need two grand to get back home. My wife asked if I had met Imelda Marcos in prison.

My friend Monte asked if he could have my office and new iPad. Best-selling Christian novelist Jerry Jenkins informed me that he was wiring me 1800 bucks in Monopoly money, and added that because it was a loan he would need repayment. (I ask you, dear reader, would Jesus have insisted on a printed receipt and repayment plan?) I told Jerry I would give him Reading Railroad and my hotel on Virginia Avenue and call us even.

Some people (I won’t use the word gullible but…) contacted me frantically needing to know that I was okay, letting me know that they believed this was probably a hoa, but if I was being tortured in a bamboo prison they would gladly send me a check or a Starbucks gift card.

For the past week, I have been reassuring every living person on the planet (and a several aliens in a parallel universe) that:
“I’ve never been to the Philippines but I hear it’s nice. You’ll be relieved to know that I have NOT lost my wallet or my passport. I think I have lost my mind…but I’m sure it’s around here somewhere. While I do not need $1800 to secure my freedom and my return to the States, I do welcome your generous cash donations to cover the therapy costs necessary to treat the emotional trauma I’ve incurred from this incident. Bless you.”

I do want to thank those who wisely discerned the e-mail was a hoax because of the poor grammar and punctuation. Not capitalizing the letter “i” is so lazy that I was embarrassed that some readers might think the letter was actually my composition.

Upon reflection, I think that if my e-hacker wanted to assume a portion of my identity for HIS benefit, it’s only fair that he assume other portions of my identity for MY benefit. I therefore insist that Mr. Criminal begin immediately to…
* make my house payment, car payment, while paying all utility, food, and insurance bills.
 * take full responsibility for the college tuition of two teenage boys.
* accept a predisposition for kidney stones.
* bear the burden of annually believing THIS could be the Titan’s breakthrough season.
* explain to every living person on the planet (and to several unidentified life forms in Washington D.C.) that your e-mail was a hoax; and that the sin of hacking my account is holding you hostage in Botswana, imprisoned in a cell with crisscrossing bars of profound regret and ceaseless guilt. Or something like that.

Author and therapist, Dr. Ramon Presson, is the founder of LifeChange Counseling and the Marriage Center of Franklin, TN.  He can be reached at


Posted on: 8/14/2013


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