Smishing, and why it’s not always a loving hug

I haven’t deconstructed a scam in a while. No bandwidth, and nothing new coming along. Until tonight.

I got a text purportedly from Uber, a service I haven’t used in months.

Antennae up!

Since I’m socially distancing like a champ, plus I like my own cooking better than most restaurants’, I have no reason to interact with Uber tonight or in the recent past.

They, whoever “they” are, sent me a code, with instructions to text “Stop” if I didn’t want continued contact. What does that do? Tells whoever’s on the other end “here’s a live number.”

Well, no, I don’t want any further contact with these bozos, because they certainly aren’t who they say they are. Uber might send you a code if you’re setting up a new account, but you’d know you did that. Same for anyone else you’re starting to do business with. But out of the blue? Not hardly.

What is smishing? We’ve met phishing, emails trying to get you to click somewhere and divulge passwords and personal info. Smishing? Smash together SMS, one of the systems text messages work on, and phishing, and you get smishing.

This makes me sad. Smishing for me used to mean warm, squishy hugs given over the internet. No longer: it’s a cyber weapon.

So, best course of action? Delete, block, ignore, mentally consign to the outer depths. Texting “Stop” will do anything but. At best you’ll you deluged with “offers”, and at worst, you’ll have connected to a premium number that charges via your phone bill. A sum small enough that you might overlook it, or not find it worth your time to contest. Multiply a buck or two times many people, and it adds up.

Or it might be the kind of premium number that gets expensive fast.

The only way to win is not to play. The easiest way to win is not to play.

If you want the game to not come to you, be wary of giving out your phone number. Everyone asks, but “No” is a complete sentence. “I don’t give it out” is milder. That’s the sentence that’s probably defended me from encountering this scam until now.

And as for that Uber scammer? I hope they develop an itch in a place they can’t scratch.

Keeping you in reading material at Smashwords–sale

Doing my part to stave off boredom while we all hang out at home means putting my Smashwords titles on sale. On Call, the CollectionSpokes and Otter Chaos are 60% off, and Set Up, cute and short, is free. Even my newest release, Running to Him, is 30% off.

Spend your social distancing time with hot guys who, ahem, are not social distancing with each other.

Use the coupon code on site, and go nuts at Smashwords.

Whoops! Running to Him ran early!

Just when I think I’ve got Amazon figured out, and factored in the current chaos in the world, and build in a safety margin that would have been good to have the last time out of the gate, it all changes.

Running to Him is live! Twenty-four hours earlier than I expected. Of course.

Some early reviews are coming in at Goodreads.  Five stars at a time.  😀  Some folks are liking the May/September, first time sweetness, and the oh-dear-lord-what-did they-just-do? plot.

So, how about a little snippet?


So much for the printer workstation being a high output business model. The damn thing needed a full-time babysitter, and somehow Carson Eddinger found himself elected to the job. Maybe if his colleagues didn’t feed the hapless machine a steady diet of rubber bands and staples along with the endless paperwork to be faxed, scanned, copied, and otherwise dumped into the bowels of the business, he wouldn’t spend so much time on his knees at work.

Hell, there had to be rent boys who spent less time on their knees and got more joy from it.

What lunatic excuse of an engineer put the paper feed in so it needed two levers and a twisty knob to extract a jam? Perhaps he should be grateful it didn’t require a blood sacrifice and an incantation.

This time. He dropped a mangled yellow sheet on the floor and hoped he’d gotten all the shreds.

Carson stayed on his knees a little longer than he needed to extract the toner cartridge, which was empty again.  With his head stuck in the machine and his butt out to the world, he could avoid speaking to The Harridan From Hell™. Yay, she was moving with purpose, and double yay, a small sip of revenge was his—Carson was only sorry that he was in the right position and wrong venue to slap his ass and tell her to “Kiss this!”

Now, the cutie she was towing behind her… Cutie ought to get a proper introduction to Carson’s backside, with any slapping to be done for much better reasons. And knees time without any copier involved.

Dream on. So much time had passed since Carson’s last enjoyable knee time that he couldn’t rightly recall. Or didn’t want to recall. He’d thought no strings attached was the way to go, until the emptiness of getting called someone else’s name, or no one’s name, became too much. Maybe if he was willing to take someone home, even let him spend the night, he’d have a better chance of something lasting.

He needed a name for Cutie. The spank bank needed a deposit. Or maybe not.

The guy was young, had to be at least ten years younger than his own thirty-three, and might not have a thought in his head.

Which wouldn’t matter one single bit: fantasy fodder only said things that Carson wanted to hear. He could imagine erudite lines from Cutie’s mouth, along with more dangerous imaginings. “Fuck me, I love you, keep breaking from the damn window, Romeo!” ought to satisfy all the needs Carson’s right hand wasn’t meeting.

His hang-dog demeanor could be fixed in Carson’s head too. He might look a lot more confident in different company. Wouldn’t anyone getting dragged into Lorraine Ratliff’s office look like they wholly regretted the events leading up to imprisonment? Carson certainly hadn’t enjoyed his last session in the Chair of Tears. Not that he’d ever give that bitch the satisfaction of knowing.

She couldn’t possibly not know how much he enjoyed being able to produce two emails from higher up, plus an invoice that she’d insisted didn’t exist. Write him up for nonsense, would she? Not that he hadn’t sweated bullets hunting for that invoice, which his nemesis the workstation had scanned into the wrong folder. She’d been so confident she had him good that time.

He’d get another glimpse of Cutie if he stood here long enough, but Angie cleared her throat behind him. He jumped guiltily—how long had he been wool-gathering?

“Do we need to call the service center?” she asked, rattling the sheaf of papers at him. “I have to get these sent out on the afternoon mail, and if I have to run over to shipping to use theirs…”

“Honestly, government. You’d think they’d come into the twenty-first century and use electronic documentation already.” Carson inspected the toner cartridge’s change date, information he’d added a month ago with a silver Sharpie on the black plastic. “No, this will only take a minute.”

Movement at an office door attracted their attention—he and Angie both swiveled to look. Jerking his eyes back to the cartridge almost as fast as he’d looked, Carson felt his fantasies evaporating like the mist they were.

“…Mom until you have an employee badge, Tim,” had to be the biggest boner-killer ever uttered.

So Cutie had a name. Tim Ratliff.

And The Harridan from Hell™ was his mother.

Why hadn’t she just named him “My Mommy Has My Balls In Her Purse”? Because that would explain his hunched over gait. His friends could call him Percy. If she let him have friends. Who in their right mind would risk dating anyone who came with a controller like her? Look how she was planning his life. And he was taking it.

If the poor guy ever managed to lose his V-card, Carson would bet either Mommy was leaning over the bed giving instructions, blurgggggggg, or he was a lot more accomplished at sneaking around than the CIA. Or he wasn’t, and the unfortunate partner was composting six feet down in the petunia bed in the back garden.

Nope, not a risk to take.

Not even a risk to imagine taking.

Back to dealing with the copier, which at least the bitch appreciated. Or at least she appreciated not being inconvenienced as frequently as the machine attempted. Not that she appreciated Carson dealing with the balky thing. Hadn’t she ridden his back about “taking time away from your assigned work” for touching its innards? Like he could get anything done without a functioning copier/scanner.

First thing, seal the cartridge, or it would puke greasy black toner all over the packaging on the way to recycling. Carson turned it over gently, hunting the tabs.

Damn it all, here came Lorraine, with blood in her eye, and her mouth all pursed up like a cat’s butt. “Don’t you even think about it!”

He’d apologize to Angie later. “Okay. I won’t. You deal with it.”

Carson thrust the cartridge into her hand in a puff of black dust.


Read the rest. You know you want to.  Available at Rocky Ridge Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, and other retailers, in mobi, epub, and print.

Yes, the Rocky Ridge link is new: we’re setting up a publisher’s store, run by the rock-solid folks at Payhip. You can get the mobi or epub there. Check it out.

Poke the bear, poke the bear, poke the bear–run!

I’m told this is a regional phrase, but I bet you get the gist. And it’s a big chunk of the book coming out in the not too distant future. Tim and Carson aren’t intentionally agitating, (Well, Carson is, kind of) and it does remain to be seen how fast they run and in which directions.

New book is not just on the horizon, it’s available for preorder as an ebook most everywhere. The paperback could be on your doorstep in a day or two, if you don’t want to wait until March 15, when the ebook goes live.

Running to Him is the first book in a new series. You’ll meet several guys who work at Monument Pharma, or would like to. Tim and Carson are the first to get their own story, and their own bottle of ibuprofen, because my goodness do they have a headache to deal with. I’d like to say Lorraine is beyond, but alas, I’ve been hanging out in corners of the internet where she isn’t even a 3 on the scale of 1 to 10.

So I wrote her to get her out of my system, and everyone around her gets some love. Because of course they do. I wouldn’t write it any other way.

Fresh out of college with a chemistry degree, Tim Ratliff’s desperate to move out on his own. He yearns for his own home, his own rules, and the freedom to find the kind of man he’s always dreamed of for his first ever boyfriend.  Tim’s applied at every laboratory he can find, but his job search is coming up crickets.

Monument Pharma would be his dream job, and Lorraine in Human Resources swears he’s a shoo-in to be hired. Wonderful, except that’s the one job he dare not take.

At thirty-three, Carson Eddinger’s life is just about perfect—a great position at Monument Pharma, nice home, sweet ride—except for the no boyfriend part. And the constant sniping from the woman in Human Resources.

She isn’t just a thorn in Carson’s side at work—she’s also Tim’s mom, and she has a white picket fence plan for Tim that definitely doesn’t involve a happy ever after with Carson.

They’ve poked the bear. Now they have to outrun it.

Ebook now on preorder at Rocky Ridge Books,  Barnes and NobleKoboApple, and other retailers. Paperback available now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Sale at Smashwords!

It’s the 11th Annual Read an Ebook Week at Smashwords.  While I kind of think every week is read an ebook week, this one’s special because you can get Otter Chaos, Spokes, or the On Call collection for 50% off.

If you need whiskery otter shifters raiding the koi pond, hot guys in spandex, or a  veterinarian and a doctor with a houseful of critters, this is your big chance.

The sale runs through March 7, Saturday. A coupon code applies at checkout. Find the books here, and go wild! Lon will help. (For some value of help. Never give an otter a box of Cheerios.)