Saturday, 17 December 2011

Stalkers and Malware

Many "phishing" and other scam e-mails are sent from hijacked e-mail accounts, using lists of e-mail addresses found on computers by infecting malware. Usually, these are friends and contacts of the account holder, so they may be people who'd be sympathetic if he got into difficulties and needed money.

But what happens if such malware infects a computer owned by a stalker?

Well, the malware searches for lists of e-mails and personal details, and sends scam e-mails to them, and passes any other contact details to cold-calling scammer's call centres, as usual. Except these are not the computer-owner's friends and contacts: they are the people he's been stalking and obssessively gathering information on: see below for an example.

-- On Sat, 17/12/11, PHILIP BEAVEN <> wrote:

Subject: My Sad Trip...Philip Beaven
Date: Saturday, 17 December, 2011, 9:34

I really hope you get this fast. I could not inform anyone about my trip, because it was impromptu. I had to be in Madrid Spain for a program. The program was successful, but my journey has turned sour. I misplaced my wallet on my way back to my hotel after I went for sight seeing. The wallet contained all the valuables I had. Now, my passport is in custody of the hotel management pending when I make payment.

I am sorry if i am inconveniencing you, but i have only very few people to run to now. i will be indeed very grateful if i can get a loan of 2,605 Eur from you. this will enable me sort my hotel bills and get my sorry self back home. I will really appreciate whatever you can afford in assisting me with. I promise to refund it in full as soon as I return. let me know if you can be of any assistance. Please, let me know soonest. Thanks so much.


Normally, one is sympathetic to someone whose computer is hijacked in this way and in whose name, friends and family get reams of malicious spam.

But in this case, Mr Beaven seems to have been hoarding details of people who were not friends, family or contacts: they are people he hounds.
Including the unfortunate stained glass artist from Ipswich who Mr Beaven tried to out, falsely, as "Medawar".
The e-mail lacks the profanity and hate-filled abuse that Medawar normally expects from Mr Beaven, which is partly how it was spotted as a scam.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Stalkers and Snake Oil

Rhys Morgan, a young man with a serious illness who decided to expose some of the cranks and con-artists peddling harmful alternative "cures" for his condition, is beginning to experience the early stages of an organised stalking campaign.

This may get worse, but he may also find that many of the threats are empty ones. If someone is really going to sue, they get a properly registered solicitor to send a letter. Threatening e-mails have no legal force whatever, and the person sending them is almost certainly breaking the law and/or professional codes of conduct.

The way to tackle this kind of thing, is to keep striking at the head of the snake (or the snake-oil salesman) and not to allow skanks hired by the snake oil salesman to divert attention from the con.

The people doing this are in the United States, they are almost certainly breaking Federal Laws and are exposing themselves to massive civil liabilities from people they have sold harmful substances to on the basis of false promises. They have a great deal more to lose from a court battle that Rhys Morgan has, so what they are doing is lay down a barrage of threats of legal action, as well as threats of a more direct nature (sending him Google Earth images of his home, for example) precisely in order to keep the matter out of court.

The stalker's next move will be to use a campaign of lies to induce individuals to initiate some kind of physical harassment against Rhys and his family. These lies may be completely unconnected to Rhys's campaign, and probably won't be based on even a grain of truth. At which point, he must contact the police, very firmly and preferably with a solicitor in tow, and make it plain that there is a criminal smear campaign against him, and that it is taking place in order to protect a large scale consumer fraud.

The ACPO advice, which leads many police forces into abject failure on stalking cases in particular, is effectively to blame the victim for provoking "anti-social behaviour" from conveniently unidentified local "kids". (The Data Protection act supposedly (but not actually) makes it illegal for the police to tell the victim who they think it might be!)

It is very important to squash this suggestion from the outset and every single time it is subsequently deployed, because a succession of police officers will be involved, and it only takes one of them to succeed in making this suggestion without challenge, for it to go on the file and become the official explanation for any crimes committed against Rhys and his family. The above advice may sound hostile to the police, but it's necessary to recognise that many of their guidelines are issued precisely in order to limit the number of cases they get involved with. They will help, providing that the victim can ensure the case is recorded and presented in a way that triggers investigation and solution, rather than pallative or evasive measures preferred by the more political levels of the criminal justice system.

If threatening e-mails originate from the USA, this is where to report them.