Sorry that posts are a bit thin on the ground just now: a lot of work on the land, on book projects and church work are crowding things a bit. But the rather misanthropic cast of my piece on apes has been, if anything, reinforced by a series of blackmail e-mails, threatening to out me as a notorious paedophile – oh, sorry, pedophile: the guy is an American, it seems, and his e-mail host is in New York.
It appears that the “outer,” who has used the my contact e-mail address from another site (I don’t think it’s displayed on here) has planted spyware that has been monitoring all my computer activity, and watching me via my computer camera. That’s a bit odd, as I don’t have a camera connected, so maybe he’s accidentally spying on someone else. Anyway, it seems that downloading extreme child pornography is the least of my crimes.
Still, he informs me, I could solve the problem of being exposed by paying a large sum to a bitcoin, whatever that is.
Ignoring the first couple of these helpful communications, I heard from my correspondent again, disappointed that I had not taken him seriously and mentioning that he had seen me out shopping the day before (Saturday), and that I have a very nice car. This takes computer-hacking to a new level, as his spyware can apparently see all I do even miles from the house… except that since it was a bank holiday weekend, lousy weather, and I had fieldwork to do at home, I didn’t leave the place at all that day.
Hiding my head in the sand, I decided the easiest thing to do was to blacklist the guy from my e-mail account, which seems to have done the trick for the last week or two, unless and until he borrows his mum’s laptop and gets another g-mail account an IP address.
You can see I’ve not been treating this matter with the gravity that it perhaps warrants. Though I’m not a public figure, I’ve done pretty well with hate mail or spamming over the last decade of posting and blogging in my own name. You can bet your life that if my name were once quoted in the mainstream media, I’d be getting death threats, since everybody else in the public eye does nowadays. And as you can see, this particular attempt at extortion was rather hindered by the perpetrator’s being less intelligent and enterprising than the average Nigerian princess offering me a share in her fortune.
But on the assumption that many innocent and trusting folk have websites whose contact addresses can be harvested, and that people like my friend do so on a large scale to find one sucker amidst them all, there are going to be people made deeply anxious by such threats. Innocent folk with some community responsibility (perhaps for children) and who happen to be amongst the high percentage who go shopping in their cars on Saturday and use laptops with built-in cameras, might just feel intimidated and vulnerable enough to lose sleep and money to someone who seems threatening.
That, after all, is why spam and e-mail scams are worth perpetrating at all. We’ve all had well-meaning friends recycling ancient conspiracy theories they’ve been circulated, and millions of pounds/dollars are lost each year to people believing the sales pitches of cold-callers.
There’s nothing surprising in all this, once one takes into account the sin nature inherited from Adam. As the usual traffic on The Hump shows, the human race has many people seeking truth, and showing good will. But always there’s that dark underbelly of the stalkers, the slanderers and the extortioners. It is our own sin nature, of course, that makes us more vulnerable to them in one way or another – some of us really must have nice cars and feel guilty about it.
Anyway, the guy obviously has lots of bitcoins now, so if you happen to be under arrest in Marrakesh and in need of urgent funds for a lawyer, you might like to approach him. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. But don’t say I recommended him.