The Russians are Coming

I was attacked by a bot this week.  Or maybe it was a Russian.  His last name was Metzker, so who knows?  That was the name he went by, but I doubt that’s his real name.

He began his missive by announcing, “I know your password is agatha.”  Okay so, once upon a time, long, long ago, in a distant place and time, I signed up for AOL so I could stay in touch with my best friend from fourth grade.  I was living in Washington state; she was living in Florida.  Long distance calls weren’t exactly affordable at the time, so an e-mail connection was our best bet.

And, since I’m a mystery writer, one whose role model happens to be Agatha Christie, choosing that for a password seemed like a no-brainer.  And I could remember it.

Please be aware that all this occurred in the mid-nineties, before people were recommending sixteen digit passwords with at least one capital letter, a number, and one of those oddball symbols marching across the top line of your keyboards.  (By the way, when it’s summer in Arizona or Texas and you want to tell someone how hot it is, why doesn’t that keyboard carry a sign for degrees as in temperature.  Maybe mine does, and I just haven’t found it yet.)  But I digress, let’s get back to my favorite Russian.

After explaining that he had my once-and-no-longer-extant password, Mr. Metzker went on to tell me that he had installed malware on my computer and knew which pornographic sites I had visited and that he had films of me from several of those.  (Cue the music for FILM AT ELEVEN, because that’s exactly what came next!)  According to him, if I didn’t immediately cough up $2700 or so in bitcoin, (Talk about a cheap date!) he would be releasing said films to my entire contact list!  And that if I ignored his e-mail (Which I’m not doing!) or reported him to the police (Why bother?) he would release the films anyway.

All I can say is, go for it.  Since I’ve never visited or performed on a porno site in my life, I can’t see how there would be any films from those kinds of sources.  And even if there were, I can’t imagine that the people in my contact list would find films of a 70-something year-old broad particularly … well … revealing.  And if such films do happen to show up, I’ll be utterly astonished.

The following day, someone attempted to log onto my gmail account using the word Agatha.  It didn’t work.  If he’d tried Daphne, that wouldn’t have worked, either, but I doubt this guy ever heard of either one of those terrific mystery writers.

So there you have it.  Another item from my writerly life, but I have a feeling that a dead Internet troll is likely to turn up in one of my upcoming books.

After all, turnabout is fair play.

26 thoughts on “The Russians are Coming

  1. Haha I had one of those too recently. Maybe the Nigerian Princes in Exile were busy that week. All I could think was, given what public figures get up to these days, threatening to tell my mommy I look at dirty pictures is pretty weak. Scammers need to up their game.

  2. Thank you! I got the same email and the fact that he had my old password bothered me. But the whole business about the porn site was such a joke that I deleted the email. However, the fact that he had even an old password bugs me. Not losing sleep though. Anyway I appreciate you for letting me know I’m in good company!

  3. I burst out laughing when I started reading this blog because something similar happened to me. It was a phone call from a woman who said I had money due from a program that had been cancelled and I had to talk to a tech. I have found these techs difficult to understand. I just hung up. No threats of posting nude photos, however. It’s a shame these people can’t find something better to do.

    Yes, put it in a book. I don’t know which of your cast of characters would be best to handle this. Ali probably.

  4. I received 2 of those emails in the last month. After ignoring the first one, the price dropped in the 2nd one (that attempted extortionist had a different name). Like you JA, it was a very old password that isn’t used anymore in any variation plus I’m on my 3rd or 4th PC since then and none of them had web cams installed to where he could see what I was doing!

    It’s a shame that there are folks out there who will fall for these scams, both the internet versions and the telephone versions.

    Keep spreading the word everyone, don’t fall for scammers no matter how aggressive they are. And there are some Law Enforcement agencies that do take these cases seriously so if you feel you’ve truly been compromised, give your local law a call.

  5. I have a copy of Peter Steiner’s famous cartoon from The New Yorker on my desk. One dog is sitting at a desk where there’s a computer. He is speaking to another dog who is sitting on the floor. “One the Internet, no one knows you are a dog.”

    It reminds me to be careful.

    • Who knew? Thanks for sharing. I’ve wondered every time I typed a recipe. Hope this 70-something year-old broad can remember.

  6. Hi J.A. I’ve been looking for that degree symbol for years, too. Haven’t found it yet.

    You handled that scammer very well. When will they learn we don’t fall for their tricks any more. We’ve seen too many of them.

    Keep up the good writing.

  7. First off – I totally agree on the “where’s the degree key” thing.
    Secondly (that’s a word, right?), I simply don’t understand the time and effort that goes into those scams. What a waste.

  8. We were hit back in the day they took over our msn account and took it to Uganda it’s still there my son in law finally got into it and found it was all in Arabic. Oh well that was then.
    We are living in Surprise Az now quite a change from Sacramento Ca. And Federal Way Wash. The older we get the further south we go,.Lol … 70 years old and we are starting a new journey. I have to say I will be glad when it cools off a bit… 107-117 is quite a change…. Hope you have a good week, it would be interesting to see your Porm site, maybe Ali would catch them … Lol Jan

  9. My husband received a letter. In the mail, if you can believe that! It states, “I know your secret and I have pictures.” And went on to threaten to reveal those secrets to his wife (me) and all our neighbors unless $2700 was deposited in a bitcoin account. Two pages of instructions on how to open an account followed.
    I’ve been waiting for several months, but still no pictures.

    They’re out there and they think we’re all stupid! I think you’ve got the beginnings of a new book!

    Ann Peck

  10. I live in the Arizona desert and temperature is always a topic for my friends elsewhere. I just use the~symbol for the degrees sign. It is 101~ here right now.

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