I received this frightening message on 4/10/2000 and thought it important enough to post on the web. The main thrust of the story is this: Use BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) whenever sending mass mail. This story was my main impetus to create the incredibly popular BCC page.

The story:

STALKED -- What happens when you forward someone else's e-mail address.

Anyone who forwards E-MAIL to groups of people should make use of this information. I will be using BCC to send all my mail from this message onward. I send this with a prayer that no one on my mailing list will ever find themselves in this position. Please send this to everyone on your mailing list to make sure we get everyone onto safe e-mailing practices.

Late one evening, while online, I received an IM (Instant Message) from a gentleman who said he knew me through mutual pals online. We chatted for an hour or so before deciding to keep in touch, as we had so many things in common. I eventually, after a week or so of knowing him, trusted him with my name (first name) and phone number; after all, he knew my friends and felt he must have been OK if they all liked and knew him. He knew a lot about them, he knew a lot about me, and he knew a lot about a lot! He seemed like such a nice person, a pleasant person, and someone whom I felt very comfortable sharing my time online (and on the phone) with. One night, a friend from our group of friends invited me to a chat room where several of the friends had gathered and were chatting when this gentleman popped into the chat room. He popped in and then left quickly. Then, for the first time since I met and started chatting with him, I mentioned him to one of the friends who was in the chat room, one whom this gentleman claimed association with. She was in total awe, she did not know who he was! Things were beginning to look really suspicious. The more she and I chatted, the more suspicious it became. It also became apparent that this guy knew none of us. Suddenly, he disappeared offline for a few days... then one day he pops back and sends me an IM saying that we need to talk. He called me at my home and I was very upset, so I asked him how he really found me and why he had felt the need to lie in the first place. This is where you all need to pay attention: He told me that he spotted my screen name on a forward that one of my friends sent to someone else. My screen name is what attracted him. He then used the screen name of others on the list of forwards to acquaint himself with me and various others from our clique of friends. He also used the member directory (at AOL) to look up info about others on the list forwards, so not to look suspicious. He said he felt it was the only way he would have the chance to get to know me, and the main attraction to me was "My Screen name" because he thought it was "sexy!" I was upset, needless to say, as I had trusted this man with my personal info... such as phone number and name. He also knew where I lived (thanks to the phone bill) and I was now his prey! A few days after having last talked this person and thinking that was the last of him, I received a phone call at 4:00 a.m., it was this man telling me he was in town to see a friend who lived 20 minutes from my house, and wanted to know if I would like to meet him for coffee or breakfast . When I told him it was not such a good idea, he became irate and hung up on me. I immediately called him back (caller ID) and explained to him that my husband was back home (trying to scare him) and please not be so mad (in fear of him and what he might do). Telling him that my husband had returned and we were reconciling was a lie, and I told him this to make him think I was not alone! Imagine the feeling I felt in the pit of my stomach when he came back with the following response "You're a lying bitch, your husband is not there with you. You are alone!" I hung up on him and immediately called the Broward County Sheriff's office and told them what had happened. They sent an officer over to take a report and said that was really all they could do for me at that time. So, I packed a few belongings into my car, and drove to my sister's home for the night. Fifteen or twenty minutes after I arrived at her home, I received a phone call from this man again! He knew I called the Sheriff and reported him, he knew where I was and he knew my sister and her husband's names! People, let me tell you something, this man had been stalking me for weeks and I had no idea! I walked, ate, slept and breathed in constant fear until he was finally arrested for stalking! Not for stalking me! Nope! For stalking another lady who lived in Kendall, FL. I wanted to share this with you all. And yes, it is all true. Friends, when you forward things and you leave your friends names out in plain view like that, you are putting THEM and YOURSELF in what could be grave danger. I hope I have gotten this message across; as I have not even begun to mention his assault (rape, using deadly force) charges the detectives from Broward County and Kendall, FL uncovered on him while investigating his prior history! People, please! Be safe, be careful and BLIND CARBON COPY (BCC) !

This is NOT a joke and NOT a hoax. PLEASE REMEMBER: It is Important to remove ALL personal e-mail addresses when sending or forwarding any mail to a number of people who don't have to know who else received it. Remember, a lot of us have a great deal of information in our SIGs (signature files that appear at the bottom of many of our messages). E-mailers should also cut out email addresses from forwards when forwarding messages. I know I have received unsolicited e-mails from individuals who have gotten my address via a forwarded message from this group. Although more annoying than serious, it could have been worse.

I would like to add... be careful what you choose for a Screen Name and Never create a Profile for yourself or give your HOME PHONE NUMBER TO ANYONE YOU HAVE NOT PERSONALLY MET!!!!!!!!