To preface, Maggie Laidlaw is fine. She's home in Guelph safe and was not held at gunpoint in the Philippines. Why would you think this? Maybe you were on the e-mail chain that got sent spam from Laidlaw's hacked e-mail address saying as much.
From the creators (probably) of the rich Nubian prince that needs your help to secure his inheritance, and the same UK lottery commission that says you've got millions in winnings coming your way, comes an urgent communique from Maggie Laidlaw from the wilds of Manila.
Here's the spam I received from Laidlaw's e-mail address:
I'm writing to let you know that my family and i are stuck in Manila, Philippine has been a mess We got mugged last night at gun point and lost all cash,credit card and cell phone. It has been a scary experience,Thank God we still got our life and passport saved here with us.Our return fight leaves in some hours from now but we are having problems settling our hotel bills, i need you to loan me some money, I'll refund it back to you as soon as we arrive back home Kindly let me know if you can be of help so that i can tell you how to wire the money to me via western union.Awaiting your positive response,Maggie
Naturally, my first thought was why of all people Maggie Laidlaw was asking me for money in this time of urgency and emergency. I like Maggie and I respect her, her husband David was my art teacher for three years in high school, but we don't know each other well enough for her to be asking for money. Besides, given the limited time the e-mail references, shouldn't the Laidlaw family be trying to reach someone a little more dependable other than the guy that writes Guelph Politico?
I e-mailed Laidlaw through her city e-mail address to ask her about the spam.
"Yes, I am no more immune than anyone else to 'The attack of the killer virus!'" Laidlaw wrote back to me. "This nasty virus sent the hoax email to everyone on my contact list, then proceeded to delete all of my emails, AND all of my contacts! Yikes! This is a first for me, and I hope the last. Most of my contacts knew it couldn't be me because of the poor grammar (I am not called the 'grammar queen' for nothing!)."
So there you have it. Laidlaw and her family are safe and sound in Canada with only a hacked e-mail account permanently damaged. So in the future, beware distress e-mails from city councillors abroad.