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Internet bandits raid my credit card

Life does not come without risks. Whether travelling to remote countries or taking the car to work in the morning, death and other mishaps linger around us, mostly ignored, then sometimes overwhelmingly real. One of the risks most of us take on a daily basis is using the internet - this 'biggest of crime scenes' as we hear nowadays in German politics - to transfer money to and fro. Thinking that the conservative use of my credit card on only serious sites would minimize my personal risk of becoming victim of internet fraud has proven naive. Internet bandits have somehow bypassed all security systems and raided my account. I am fuming.

There are few things that make me foam at the mouth. One is the feeling of powerlessness in the face of injustice. The last time this feeling hit was the blatant apathy of the police concerning my Valentine bout with vandalism. Today bile rose bitterly in my throat when I realized that the chances of bringing those criminals who busted my credit card to justice are minimal- even though there is plenty of evidence. So, after doing the usual and contacting my bank, instead of leaving things to take their bureaucratic course, I was driven by some sort of 'Famous-Five' instinct to collect my wits and use it to draw up the following think sheet from the facts accumulated over a day on the telephone...

Fact #1: The card was used exclusively to order items from online-shops.

Comment: The bandit apparently used the correct combination of card number and Cvc code. My credit card is still with me, however. This leaves two conclusions: Either someone has had access to it during the short time span I have left my wallet lying around class rooms, the boarding house, or my apartment. The second possibility includes some technical handcraftiness of finding a correct combination by trial and error. Phishing etc are of course always possibilities, but I try to minimize this risk by using my credit card only on bookmarked sites of trustworthieness, only from behind my personal firewalls and never in open source wlan networks.

Fact # 2: The online-Shops ordered from sell solely game computers, PC games, brand and skater clothing.

Comment: The criminal is a person interested in these items or plans to resell them. The second case is unlikely as it is difficult and time-consuming to resell clothes (as I know from experience). There are hundreds of other items that do not lose their value via ebaying as fast.

Fact #3: The adress given to deliver at least some of the items is a 'Norma' shop in the German town of Nürnberg.

Comment: Several possibilities here. Somehow I doubt that I have become victim of a cashier waiting for the deliveries of goods at the cash register. Rather, it seems the adressee does not want the goods to be delivered to the a adress as there is the possibility of other persons finding out and is not old enough to arrange for a poste restante account. But how then to retrieve the goods? There is also the possibility that the goods were not meant to be picked up at all - and all of this is just to cause financial damage to me for whatever reasons. Last but not least: 'Norma' holds special associations to all LGH students.

Fact #4: The (working) e-mail adress given for correspondce by the thug is Dr.Ulf@live.de

Comment: Is this humor? Probably to the person who came up with that one.

Fact #5: The telephone number given for correspondence is also located in Nürnberg. Nobody has picked up as of yet.

Comment: I didn't think someone would. Yet the thought of recognizing a voice at the other end of the line was enough for me to dial the numbers with shaking hands and a heart beating way too fast for comfort.

All these things make for interesting guessing and conclusions. (By the way, I'd be interested in yours...) However, a day-and-a-half of puzzling later and venting my anger in this post, I have settled for a great 'Anyway': Whoever it is who is trying to make my life miserable by robbing me of hard-earned pay - Fuck you. From all my heart and from the bottom of soul, I despise your action and vow not to grace your devious littel self with attention any longer My money stays with me - and well, I hope the fun you had is worth a potential reunion in court.


Impression from the Médoc

A moment caught on camera. Sorry about the perspective.


A change in plans

The more you plan, the more can go wrong. This little piece of advice has proven itself to me to be more than a slick aphorism time and again. On the other hand, there are few things I like doing more than anticipating the different lives that lie ahead, dependent on whether at the next turn I will decide to take a left or a right. Or reviewing all those decisions - conscious or unconscious as the case may be - that were taken in the past... and where I might have ended up, had I done the opposite just then. Mostly, I stare back in wonder, and thank my lucky stars,that everything turned out just the way it did – and find that most of the times life dealt me a hand I could not have anticipated anyway, thus rendering all planning and deciding useless.

When thinking about all the options for my sabbatical, several plans distilled themselves in my imagination, all of which had a certain charme, and all of which would have doubtlessly influenced my post- sabbatical life to an immense degree. In the end, as some of the more loyal reader might recall, I decided on a picture-book plan for discovering South America, with Tango, learning Spanish and surfing included. All things decided, I did leave a small amount of leeway by reminding myself and my readers that the only stable thing, at least in my life, has been change, and that perchance I would meet the woman of my dreams and finally fall in love for real. And as things go, just this has happened.

What to do with my year then, now that everything has turned around? Well, the truth is, nothing is decided. There are certain elements (writing, surfing, travelling) that form the core. Then there is the as of yet also uncertain path of my newfound love, with whom I will spend as much time together as possible, and find a new semi-permanent home until August 2010. There is the longboard workshop, there is a drama project in Stuttgart, there is Morocco, Maledives, Madagascar - and, who knows, perhaps the old plan for Tuvalu will have its day. So, my year will be a puzzle – with pieces here and there that already stick out and are more or less fixed in the finished picture, and others still turned over or presumed missing.

In fourteen months time I will look back on my sabbatical, and hopefully can congratulate myself on another year well spent – wherever and whoever I will be by then.