Internet love & being phished: Falling fast for the American

Aug 20

(This is the second in a six-part series that will run over the next two weeks at A ‘lil HooHaa)

Not a day went by without me checking my e-mail constantly in search of e-mails from Irina. After all, she was my future wife, my love … right?

OK, maybe not.


So after our initial e-mails, we had a lot to talk about. If we were going to spend our life together as man and wife, we needed to get to know each other and see if we were a true match. If so, we had to start figure out the details of all of this.

Oh so much to do and so little time. Well, not really. We had our entire lives to spend with each other!

It was in here second or third letter to me, however, where we found out there might be issues in our budding romance.

It is very pleasant for me, that you have answered my letter. Excuse, that I cannot write to you every day. I to not have a house the Internet and consequently to write to you from club where there is use of the Internet. But I cannot visit him so frequently how to want.

Wait… what? I have to wait days to get an e-mail from the new love of my life because of this? Blasphemy! How will I last? What will I ever do? This is not acceptable to me…

Irina kept sending photos, showing the fun she had. It definitely could have been pure marriage bliss!

Irina kept sending photos, showing the fun she had. It definitely could have been pure marriage bliss!

Oh, wait. No worries. I don’t respond every day, either, as I wasn’t as creative with my writing back then as I am now. I think if I did this in this day and age, I’d have a whole heap more fun with it.

Anyway, this letter was about her and family. She’s apparently a single child and her mother, Nastya, is 49 and works at a factory as a chief accountant. Things like this are highly important to remember as we go through the phishing aspect of things.

Details, folks.

When you are trying to get some schlep to send you cash, make sure the details work as a whole story. It’s like I told students when I taught freshman composition at a local college – a story always needs a beginning, middle and end – and they should all work together.

Irina also has a cat and she “brightens up my loneliness.” She lives in a small apartment, with no phone. Apparently, a phone cable does not come to her house. And that stinks because, apparently, she wants to hear my voice. Alas, we can’t call each other. (I can’t imagine calling Russia back in 2005 … maybe now with Skype etc.) It made me wonder though, as Omsk is a pretty big city…

She also like sports.

I give preference of aerobics and to navigation in pool or on the river. Also I like to play volleyball. In the winter I to like to ski and on skates. You love sports?

The photos kept coming ... if only the dream could have come true.

The photos kept coming … if only the dream could have come true.

Oh my! Match made in heaven. She also likes to cook, and pizza is one of her favorite meals. Does this gal get any more perfect? (Side note: She doesn’t eat pizza much because “I watch the figure”).

She then goes on to basically tell me women in Russia are trained by their mothers to conduct household affairs etc.

Finally, she loves hanging out with her friends, going on walks and things like that – but not frequently. She loves to read and listen to music.

Here’s the kicker though – she’s already trying to goad me into things. How? Please read…

I to want that our attitudes to develop and probably once to grow in love and to us it will be
necessary to meet. Earlier I never to leave limits of Russia. I to think of it before to write to you. I to think, that probably I should leave the country and to arrive to you. I to decide, that is ready to this.

So. In. Love.

Let’s remember, too, that I kept my responses a bit shorter and more broad in nature. I did so because I actually wanted to be a little more of a mystery. I figured if I didn’t give all my information, she’d keep writing, wanting to know more.

Her next letter started to move this a bit faster, though.

You probably very much to borrow a question why I to search to myself for the husband abroad and why I to not search for the man in Russia.

I actually didn’t wonder, but hey, if you are offering.

She really seemed happy and ready to settle down.

She really seemed happy and ready to settle down.

So turns out she dated some dude for like three years and he wanted her to move in with him, but she was still in college and didn’t want to move in with him because, hey, it could totally screw up her studies. Once she made that decision, he found another woman, threw Irina to the curb and totally busted her heart.

She dug into her studies and made herself a success, but … well, love needs to happen. The problem? All guys wanted was sex! That means she can’t find herself a good man in Russia. (I have news though, people in the US – and other parts of the world – think the same way!) That’s when she decided to take it to the Internet and find herself a man.

And I very much to want that at last was found the man which can make me happy and which will be done happy by me. I very much to want to have happy family. It is main my dream in a life. I to want that with me beside to be the beloved and that he to give me the heat and tenderness. I to want to give all my tenderness to this to the man. I for the present have not found that happiness which I search. Probably this happiness will you. I yet do not know. I to want
to learn your opinion on all this?

Could this be true? Could I have found my true love? On the World Wide Interwebz?

At this point, we’re moving along quite swimmingly. So much so that there should be talk of a church and wedding bells, no?


The funny part of this is I couldn’t stop – it was too funny. I knew the eventual question (money) was going to come up, but I wondered how long it would take. I also wondered how far she was going to go with this. She sent a photo almost every letter (and, yes, I am putting them in these posts because they were sent to me, thus I am assuming they are her… but who knows? Maybe it’s some dude in Chicago trying to nab some cash).

Her latest tells me how much my letters decorate her day and make her happy. We become close each e-mail, you see, and it’s interesting to learn about each other.

It’s at this point where I wonder if some of these are scripts of sorts. If it’s sent out to several people in hopes of getting one to bite on the whole idea of this Russian wife. Her next letter talks how she doesn’t like to take to “egoists” and she needs to find good people to talk to. That’s not easy, though, so she doesn’t have many close friends.

She also quoted the Bible.

From there, we start to get to the meat of this one. She likes me and all and my qualities … and now it’s time to push this forward. Maybe the biological clock was ticking?

Now probably it is necessary to tell, that I to like in people and I search for what qualities in
the future husband. In the person to me before In total his honesty and frankness is important. I to consider, that it is the most important qualities for any person.

She's ready to be my Mrs.!

She’s ready to be my Mrs.!

This whole line makes me laugh. First because though I was being honest in my answers and e-mails, I definitely wasn’t being frank and I wasn’t really planning on anything. And, let’s call it out – we know she wasn’t being honest, either. So, our relationship was starting to crumble already!

I to want that it never to tell lies and speak me always the truth even if this truth will be unpleasant.

Wait… we are still doing this then?

She goes on to say through my letters that she knows I am a good and honest person with solid qualities. She, apparently, is making the correct choice with me.

She concludes the letter by telling me about her dreams.

My dreams simple. I want to be happy and to do happy on the Earth loved Me of the person. I to want to find that happiness which never on the present to have. And I very much to hope, that it will be you. For my years of loneliness I to save up big The potential of tenderness and kind feelings which is not spent yet and waits for the person to whom I shall devote all myself.

There you have it. The dream is there and, apparently, I am said dream. Happiness will be coming. Filled with tenderness and feelings.

And devotion. Holy crap devotion.

The next step was going to be made … but who would make it? And when were we setting the date for our wedding? Only time will tell.

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Photo day with Cam: Trying to make a Phillies Phan

Aug 19

For those of you who do not know, I have an infant nephew/godson. He was born this past December and in that time, he’s grown quite a bit.

It’s truly amazing to see how time quickly moves, right?

A great day for photos with Cam.

A great day for photos with Cam.

Anyway over this time, there have been some milestones and other things, but every time I do photos, I seem to do it with my phone. Which is fine, but often I can’t do some of the things I’d like to do.

So, I decided to change that a bit.

Knowing this young lad was going to be groomed into being a Bruins fans, I needed to act quick. That meant trying to get another Phillies phan in the family.

I went and found several shirts and items to purchase and set up a photo day with my brother and sister-in-law.

It went well. This little guy really is fun to take photos of and watch move around. So I wanted to have a post about the day, and post a few of the photos. I didn’t have digital and such when my niece (who is going to be a senior this year) was growing up, so this will be kind of fun to be able to do shots like these as he continues to grow.

Below are a few of my favorite images from that day.

This might be my favorite of the day. Something about it.

This might be my favorite of the day. Something about it.

Maybe he's a hitter?

Maybe he’s a hitter?

Or a knuckleballer...

Or a knuckleballer…

This one was priceless.

This one was priceless.

A Chase fan sitting on second?

A Chase fan sitting on second?

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Internet love & being phished: A Russian beauty chases me

Aug 18

(This is the first in a six-part series that will run over the next two weeks at A ‘lil HooHaa)

If all had gone to plan in 2005, I’d be hitched to a Russian beauty, probably have a few kids and be living some sort of a melting-pot American Dream, no?

Well, maybe not.

See, this story is going to go in two directions. But before I get to the second direction, I need to go to the first. And that takes us back to 2005.


Let me explain one thing, though. I’m a skeptic about most things. Maybe it’s the journalist in me. Maybe it’s just my nature or that I’m the son of a cop. Could be anything, but I’m skeptical about many things that come before me.

Especially random e-mails I get online or through websites.

Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t like to have fun with those people sending these e-mails. I’ve had exchanges with the people who have told me I have a dead uncle in Zimbabwe who left me the equivalent of $25.5 million and all I have to do is give them some bank info and I’ll be instantly rich.

And, yes, I’ve responded to some love e-mails. So let’s go back to 2005, and I will explain.

In 2005, I signed up for a pen pal website. I always thought it would be cool to have a true pen pal and I figured as the Internet started to grow, that sort of thing may come to an end, so I wanted to try and see if I could find somebody from a foreign country. I had forgotten about the site, for the most part, until receiving a note on there from Irina in late April or so.

She wasn’t really looking for a pen pal, though. She was looking for love. And, apparently, it was with me. She wanted me. Who can blame her, right? Especially with no pertinent information, no photo or anything along those lines.

Ahh Irina... the first image of my future wife... if only it had worked out.

Ahh Irina… the first image of my future wife… if only it had worked out.

Seemed legit.

This is what Irina wrote to me:

Hello my new friend.

My name is Irina. I to become interested in your structure on and to decide to write to you. I live in Russia. To me of 29 years. I never was married. I the soft and gentle girl, like when in the house warmly and cosy. I believe in the God and in the soul. I love walks on nature, I adore fresh whiff of a wind, tender beams of the gentle sun. I am looking for a serious relationship leading to marriage and I am not interested just in a internet chat or adventure. I am interested only in how the man hisself is and not what he has. If you have become interested in me please write on this e-mail: (e-mail address). If you to answer me on my e-mail i shall write in more detail about myself and I shall send you the photo. I very much to hope for your fast answer.

Holy smokes! With prose like that, who couldn’t fall in love immediately?

Well, of course I was going to write her back. That’s like having the large blind in Texas Hold ‘Em and not seeing the flop when everyone else just matched the bet.

I mean, heck, who doesn’t adore the fresh whiff of a wind or the tender beams of the gentle sun? This is pure gold.

Plus, she was looking for marriage. I needed to see what she looked like. I wasn’t disappointed, on that aspect, either. This was a match made in heaven, wasn’t it?

As if!

Language differences aside, this was a ploy from the beginning. I knew it, too. Again — skeptic. I realize there are dating services and all that, but even back in 2005, somebody randomly sending you a message proclaiming love to you was a red flag.

Especially when my profile at the pen pal website basically said I was looking for a pen pal and nothing more.

And that red flag? A big one.

Still, far be it from me to test the gods. After all, she believed in the God, so I felt I owed it to her to see what this was all about. So, I wrote her back. Short and sweet, yet making it sound like I was fully interested. Heck, in one letter, she even gave me an address where I could send a real letter (it’s one thing I regret not doing – just to see what would happen).

Irina definitely seemed like a fun lady.

Irina definitely seemed like a fun lady.

Soon, she responded to me. She spoke about how she enjoyed receiving my letter and was happy I answered, though one or two of the words were still in Russian. So the translation wasn’t there, unfortunately. Damn those services, anyway!

What followed was about a month and a half worth of e-mails (I can’t believe she continued, especially when I wouldn’t send a photo and obviously was shying away from anything personal or what she requested. I won’t paste all the letters, but I am going to now go through this “romance” and talk about some of the letters and the laughter that ensued as it went on) between us, though there were gaps in times, either by me not responding or her taking a while. Eventually, I think she realized I wasn’t some gullible guy on the street willing to pay to bring her to the states, so she stopped responding.

Alas, for the time this happened, it was quitter entertaining. Read on.

I to want to write to you and to learn you closer. I to think, it will be interesting to you to learn me further? I to send you the picture and it is a little to describe of myself. My name is Irina. I to hope, that you can understand my English language. English my second language and I know him not absolutely well, but I hope, that in the future my English will be much better. I hope, that you will not test problems with understanding of my letters.

It’s hard not to fall for somebody when they write you words like this. I think I was smitten from the beginning, hopeful that our love would be strong and grow through choppy words, skimpy photos (turns out they weren’t) and a fling for the ages. But, she needed to make sure I knew all about her.

Irina seemed to like the simple things in life, which was definitely nice.

Irina seemed to like the simple things in life, which was definitely nice.

I want to describe to you myself. Hair at me fair-haired. But sometimes I to paint them different colors. Eyes brown. I have growth 5 ’ 7 and weight 110 lbs. To me of 29 years. I was born on June, 18,1975. Earlier I never to be married and to have only long attitudes. But the life passes, and I and to not select the partner in life.

Talk about speaking my language! She is near my age, she sounds quite nice and she’s single and in search of love. And I don’t know how it is in Russia, but in the US, there are many ways to find love, including the internet. It seems our heroine didn’t know, initially, that she could seek this love elsewhere.

According to the girlfriend I to try to address in the Internet, to find the love. And so I do not know why, but to me the fuse in soul your structure was remembered also. And I have decided to write to you. I hope you too you will become interested in me and you will write further. Probably once in the future we to decide to meet and create with you strong and happy family.

Whoa! Apparently, we’re a match made in the interwebz!

She goes on to say she works in a hospital as an administrative worker of sorts, dealing with databases and such. She lives in Omsk, which apparently is about 1,400 miles from Moscow. Omsk is on the southeast part of Russia, closer to Kazakhstan. She then requests to know more of where I live etc.

Then she ends the letter:

I shall finish the letter. I hope, that you have become interested in me and will write back. I to promise to tell to you about myself everything, that it is interesting to you. I very much would like that you to continue to write to me. Your new friend Irina.

In 2005, I had been working at a daily paper for a bit more than a year and I had grandeur thoughts of books and all sorts of writing riches. So this was pure gold. I was going to run this as far as I could in hopes of something worth writing about.

She was looking forward to life on this side of the pond.

She was looking forward to life on this side of the pond.

My response was much shorter than hers, basically talking covering a broad subject base about myself, explaining the area in which I live, noting her English wasn’t as bad as she thought and that I, too, hoped for a magical connection.

She had sent me one photo – with more that followed. But this was the first – of many – e-mails where I avoided sending a photo of me.

There are some gaps, too. I don’t know why, but going through my e-mail filters, I can’t seem to find all the e-mails, whether my responses or not. I don’t know why as I purposely saved everything and there are things that don’t make sense. For example, if she wrote me on May 5, then 7 … and my responses are dated weeks later. It may be a glitch in the calendar.


That being said, my responses were very basic. I would answer questions as honestly as I felt comfortable with (favorite foods, colors, things I did for fun), but stayed away from more direct info, such as where I lived and identifiable things In fact, I even used my fill first name, rather than what I’ve been called my whole life – figuring it was much easier that way.

But – this post is getting long. So I am going to stop it at this point and continue tomorrow with this story. I’ll get deeper into the conversations and where the actual “phishing” came into play. And I’ll also share why I decided to finally write about this entertaining experience and then have something even better.

Stay tuned!

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Soundless Sunday: August 17

Aug 17

“I have always hated bowling, and I don’t mind admitting it.”

– Hunter S. Thompson


Soundless Sunday is a weekly feature where I’ll try and feature a favorite quote and a photo that I’ve taken. Enjoy life — it’s the only way to go!

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Snapshot Saturday: August 13

Aug 16

Another blast from the past!

A happy face!




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Internet love & being phished: A series on A ‘lil HooHaa

Aug 15

Over the course of a few months, I’ve slowly been chipping away at a series of stories I wanted to place on the blog. Through all of it, I needed to research and figure some things out before pushing forward.

I’ve finally completed it and it will run over the next two weeks (six-part series, runs M/W/F each week) here at A ‘lil HooHaa.

The overall theme of the series is phishing scams, notably by using love as a crutch.


It starts off with a few parts about somebody who contacted me through a penpal site several years ago. Because I knew from the beginning what was happening, I went back-and-forth with the girl for a couple of months (purposely going long gaps without responding) in the hopes one day I’d have something to write about.

I finally followed through.

See, I played it as best as I could – I promised the moon and delivered nothing but e-mails.

The second half of the series deals with a friend who was contacted through a dating website. This one hung around for a bit as she seemed semi-local and everything seemed on the up-and-up.

That is until she showed her true colors.

I wrote these stories because I found them each amusing, but it also shows a different thing – such as scams that people are falling for each day. These people never ask for millions of dollars, rather something they think they could get somebody to send. The funny part is the amount they usually ask for wouldn’t come close to paying for what they say it will go for (such as $500 or so for a plane ticket and passport from Russia to the US).

I’ve attempted to do this several other times, whether it be a dating scam, or that I won money, or that I inherited something — but most don’t give much beyond their first e-mail, so it makes the hope of a good story kind of hard.

I’ve spread this series out over the course of the next two weeks so I could also put in a few regular posts to break it up. I hope you’ll come along for this journey of crazy stories and see how outlandish some of this can be. Included will be photos (each sent photos) and direct quotes from e-mails.

Hopefully you will enjoy the series and see how crazy and how much people will push to get you to buy what they are selling. The series starts Monday.

Schedule :

  • Monday, August 18: A Russian beauty chases me
  • Wednesday, August 20: Falling fast for the American
  • Friday, August 22: The truth is revealed
  • Monday, August 25: Utilizing dating sites to cash in
  • Wednesday, August 27: No money for you!
  • Thursday, August 28: And that’s a wrap, folks!

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Hall of Fame Picnic 7 grows with perfect weather

Aug 14

It seems like yesterday that I went on my first day of geocaching. Two of us went on March 1, 2008 in search of these Tupperware containers in the woods or elsewhere.

We found five that day, which was a cold but sunny winter afternoon.

I soon became addicted to this game and have loved doing it ever since. One other thing I have always enjoyed was the events. The first I went to was in May of 2008. That fall, three of us worked on an area event with the idea that it would grow over time and be a yearly things.

The seventh rendition of our summer picnic event.

The seventh rendition of our summer picnic event.

It’s done that and then some.

The Hall of Fame Picnic was born out of the idea that we had two Hall of Fames (at the time) within 30 minutes of each other – the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta.

Alas, the Soccer Hall has since shut its doors, but the name continues.

Over time, we’ve held it at a few different parks – Neahwa in Oneonta, Glimmerglass in Cooperstown and Fortin in Oneonta, which is where we’ve kind of settled in as our “home.” Maybe down the line we’ll move it around somewhere again, but the Grove Pavilion at Fortin Park has become a great spot for us.

Year 7!

Year 7!

This past weekend we held the event for the seventh consecutive year. It’s hard to imagine seven years have passed by with this wonderful event. Seven years. In a few more years, we’ll be hitting 10.

We set a record this year with more than 35 geocachers (at least names) attending. The number of actual people is higher as some teams have two or three people under one geocaching name. Some stayed most of the day, some came and went and some made brief stops. But it was all good in the end as we had a good turnout – our best yet.

Our first year was, obviously, our smallest. We had 17 legit attendees (there were 35 who logged they came, but three people unethically logged the event caches as a will-attend to get finds – and not being the “owner,” I couldn’t do anything about it). The numbers fluctuated over the following years, but stayed in the 20s until this year.

Some of the medals for the top three in each event.

Some of the medals for the top three in each event.

We’ve had a lot of fun with it, too. I always strive to find something different to do. We’ve done a photo scavenger hunt twice, a regular scavenger hunt, had potluck picnics and, this year, did the GeoOlympics.

What an event the GeoOlympics was.

We had five events where cachers competed and earned points and medals. We had an FTF Dash where we gave the person the coordinates and they had to go sign the log and return. We had a micro toss and an ammo can toss. There was a closest to the pin, as well as speed container – where they were timed decorating a geocache container. (Side note: these containers will all be released as live caches, with the person’s name as part of the title. I’ll just go through and “clean ‘em up” if needed before placing).

There was plenty of food, chat and other geocaching fun. And, honestly, I’m not sure we could have asked for better weather.

Our overall top three!

Our overall top three!

What was really nice is that we had people travel from all over for this event – from an hour or so away to spots in other states, such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I had the chance to meet some new faces and catch up with those I already knew.

Doing the in-depth games are fun, but sometimes it takes away from the event to the point that every year or two, it’s worth doing just the picnic and having people hang out, eat, play some “yard games” and have a good time. Maybe next year. We’ll see.

In the end, it was a fine time and people seemed like they had a great time. I always enjoy hosting events and coming up with different ideas, so this all worked out well.

I truly do believe this was our best summer picnic yet. It was perfect weather, some fun activities and people stuck around, which was nice. There are some early talks for ideas for the next couple of years, so hopefully we can continue to grow the event as we march toward 10 years in 2017!

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