by Ted L Glines
A few weeks ago, a lady named Shelly from Montego Bay, Jamaica, wrote an “I Need Help” request to the good folks at HaltAbuse.org (http://www.haltabuse.org/index.shtml). Shelly had met a man named Edward on an Instant Message site. He was nice and he sent her an attractive photo. They talked a lot on IM, email, and telephone. Edward was an artist who lived in southern California, but he traveled a lot to Idaho and Texas. Shelly shared her life in Jamaica. It was a developing Internet love story and they became engaged to be married.
Internet relationships happen all the time and, mostly, such relationships work out beautifully. I met Patty on the Internet years ago and our love grows with each passing day. But sometimes, something goes very badly wrong.
Across time and many communications, Shelly began to sense that Edward was not what he pretended to be, and she broke off their engagement. Suddenly, Edward attacked Shelly with pornographic emails, threatening phone calls, and ... here is what Edward did, in Shelly's own words:
“My computer was hacked by this man. All my contact email addresses were copied, so were all my conversations with friends. This began about the 20th of november 2007. First it was harassing calls, then the emails started. He has harassed everyone on my mailing list both by phone and email since last year. He has even been sending these emails to others I dont know." Also defamation details: "In the emails, he comments that I sleep with many men to get gifts for me and my daughter. Nude pictures are included which he says are pictures of me (pics are not me). He also sends these emails to my 14 yrs old daughter's email address. He has posted my home address, my phone numbers, my mother's number, my daughter's number, and my work address, plus he sends these emails to my job although he has been told to desist from doing so. He has called most all my friends on numerous occasions. Now people who I don't even know keep calling my numbers and calling my friends also. He has sent emails to my friend's place of work on numerous occasions, trying to get them fired from their jobs. He has emailed one of my friend's company, telling them that he uses his corporate credit card to entertain prostitutes. All these statements were made online to a lot of people, most of whom I have no idea who they are, and also to my friends online.”
A HaltAbuse case-worker received copies of the offending emails from Shelly. They were fully as bad as she said. Shelly was taught how to get the full header on these emails, thus revealing the following information about Edward:
Name Used: EDWARD EPHRAIM GAL
Name Used: Melville Honest
Verizon Login: honestme2001.71.103.186.105 login
Based upon this, a complaint was filed by the case-worker with both Yahoo and Verizon. They were sent copies of the pornographic and threatening emails, along with the full headers. However, and this does not often happen, Yahoo responded “After investigation, we have determined that this email message did not originate from the Yahoo! Mail system. It appears that the sender of this message forged the header information to give the impression that it came from the Yahoo! Mail system.”
“Edward” was proving smarter than your average abuser. He had found a way to alter the header on his emails to make it appear the way the case-worker saw it. Sort of like a wolf wearing sheep's clothing. This is not difficult to accomplish. The HaltAbuse.org case-worker found several Internet sites where detailed instructions for forging SMTP headers were available to any browser; instructions which were simple and required no real hacker expertise.
So, it appeared that the HaltAbuse.org case-worker was back to the starting line. “Edward” would like to believe this was true .
During his back and forth communications with Shelly, she had provided some additional information to the case-worker:
ADDRESS: P.O Box 23035
San Bernadino CA. 92406
PHONE NOS: 323 377 6234 & 323 377 6408
These had been the phone numbers Shelly had used to call “Edward,” and she had sent and received mail through that P.O. box. HaltAbuse.org cannot normally use this type of evidence because they deal only with email hosts and Internet Service Providers.
Our HaltAbuse.org case-worker felt he had a duty to Shelly. She had called for help. She needed for the predator to be stopped before his predations escalated. So, the case-worker browsed outside the box.
Why bother? Yahoo had said that the predator could not be identified. Well, this case-worker was known as “The Bulldog” for a reason. There had to be a way to stop this guy.
The case-worker found IC3 (http://www.ic3.gov/), a Website which is a partnership between the FBI and community service agencies dealing with cyber crimes. Email harassment is illegal in California, as it is in almost every state. IC3 has a complaint form which, when it is submitted, will be reviewed and forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
In this case, the postmaster at 92406 will have a record of the person who is renting that box. Both phone numbers are cell phones. Using Advanced Search on Google, the case-worker found the Carrier to be SPRINT SPECTRUM L.P. in Burbank, CA. This Carrier will have a billing address for “Edward” and likely a true email account.
The rest is history. Shelly and her daughter and associates are at peace, and “Edward” has been given a period of time to reflect on the wages of a predator. The case-worker is smiling.
Prisons are full, largely because criminals forget the small details. And bulldogs only release their grip ... to get a better grip.