When I 'tracked down' her side of the family and attempted to contact them, they thought it might be a case of identity theft. But when I sent a photo of Linda's father with his parents, he exclaimed "How does she have that picture? I don't even have that photo!"
This was a case where Linda and her teen daughter posted an internet message in 1998, looking for information about her grandfather. They never found any. Twelve years later, I searched for her grandfather, and found the posting. I tried to send an email to their address, but it was no longer valid. Then I found another internet posting by the same email address. That gave me the name of her daughter.
I searched for her name, and found her on a social networking site. I sent a message. No answer. They thought it was someone phishing for personal information. I sent another message, this time to her husband, and with more details and the photo. Then the information was passed on to the family.
After a few tentative emails, my 'authenticity' and the fact that I wasn't looking for identity information, money, or anything like that - and I shared a lot of information that they didn't know about the family, which was as amazing to them, as it was to me when I first discovered it.
It definitely pays to be cautious when someone contacts you and asks for family info and photographs. In this case, we benefited by establishing that we were family indeed.
Another irony was that during 1948 to 1952, three of the men in this generation were all in Japan together! My Dad, his cousin Melvin Koons, and their second cousin Jack Gilbert Copeland - and they never knew!