Being a Victim

Many years ago, I wrote a piece for my local newspaper on the terrors of being stalked. The article required extensive research including an interview with a psychologist who had completed a study on stalking. Her advice on the issue was absolute: no matter how times they contact you, never engage. Her words still ring out in my head, “ignore, ignore, ignore”, and report to the authorities.

This week I experienced my own unpleasant incident. Somebody copied my profile picture and bio. and impersonated me on Twitter, sending tweets out to my friends. They used a different user name, but how many of us notice that when we receive a note from one of our tweeps? The details are now under investigation by Twitter. I can only assume that this was a potential spammer, but the incident has left a pithy taste in my mouth.

It is strange in life, when everything happens at once. I remember years ago, when I first started to read the Harry Potter novels, thinking what an unusual name ‘Hermione’ was. The following week I watched a film starring British actress Hermione Norris, then a few days later was introduced to a new representative named Hermione, through my professional capacity at work.

This has also been a week of those little co-incidences. Only the other day, a friend on Twitter told me her account had actually been compromised and the infiltrator had sent nasty direct messages (personal messages) out to her followers, which looked as though they had been sent by herself. Then, this morning, I received an email from another friend who advised that his email account had been hacked. He was contacting the whole of his address book, a laborious task, advising them to ignore any messages received within the last 24 hours.

Fortunately, we have all taken action to report these incidents and our friends in cyberspace have been wonderfully supportive. These are events that could happen to anyone, after all. But it does beg the question – what do spammers hope to gain from this sort of malicious behaviour? If they think it is going to encourage us to click on their links and buy their products, they are seriously mistaken. These actions will only serve to make us more likely to block them forever.

 It is such a shame that a small group of people can taint the wonderfully supportive and friendly world of social media. For my part, I will be extra vigilant from now on. And I can’t help but think back to the psychologist’s advice, “ignore, ignore, ignore”, and report to the authorities. If we all follow this, hopefully, one day they’ll give up…

22 thoughts on “Being a Victim

  1. So pointless, but it obviously keeps them amused. My email was hacked a couple of weeks ago and it made me feel sick. Having to send emails to your bank manager to tell them not to open a link you sent them is not a nice thing to have to to! All we can do is ignore, report, block.

  2. I’m sorry this happened to you Jane. You worked so hard to get where you are and then to have some stranger change everything is really awful. Just know that there are more good people than bad people in the world and all of us good people know who the real Jane Isaac is.

  3. OMG . . . the trollish sort keep all of us hopping, and that’s what they want, a new kind of chaos, anarchy. It’s just fun for them, and they don’t need any other deeper reason. My MobileMe account was hacked while I was away visiting my (ill) father & this added so much stress to that week, all in the background as we tried to close and reconfigure every password (and this hacker still stuck like a barnacle after we thought we got every change) . . . taking over your account, using your good name, trying to make everyone you know think you are up to something . . . very sad. But change and ignore, ignore, ignore: I love that advice.

    • Hey Justin. Thanks for your kind words. I’m so sorry to hear of your own experience. The more you delve into this, the more you realise just how prevalent it appears to be. I shall certainly be on my guard now:)

  4. It is awful and as a social media consultant, I advise clients to change their Twitter (and other SM passwords) weekly. Most don’t. You also have the option of confirming on your mobile. Hackers obviously can’t get hold of your mobile (even if they do, they won’t know your approval code), so the ‘double opt-in’ option is your best bet.

    Some advice: be sure to include an upper case letter, lower case letter, numbers, a few symbols, and an Alzheimer’s med to remember it all.


  5. Hi Jane Sorry to hear you’ve had this experience. It does seem supremely pointless on their behalf but I guess they get a kick from causing embarrassment. Nearly 2 years ago my Hotmail e mail was totally hi-jacked by hackers who not only sent out a ridiculous illerate message to everyone claiming I was being held hostage on a mountain in Wales (I know!) but also changed my password, security settings etc. I never ever got back into that account and it caused me month after month of headache, even with friends who couldn’t seem to get round to using my new e-mail address. I thought it was all behind me but just last autumn, I lost ownership of my domain name because I’d paid for 2 years and forgotten to tell them my new address so missed the reminders. By the time I tried to get my domain back, I was being held to ransom by a Chinese company trying to charge me $400! That’s when I discovered WordPress and realised I didn’t really need one. It really is depressing that some people have nothing better to do, but the worst part was when I contacted the local police telling them about an address in the hacker’s message (where they wanted money sent), they couldn’t be bothered to investigate. What a world!

    • Wowsa Isobel! I’m not even sure where to begin. My recent troubles pale into insignificance. Kidnapped and held hostage in the Welsh mountains? You could write a book about that one! It sounds like a Simon Kernick novel. Bless you. Thank goodness you managed to sort it all out.

  6. I’ve always wondered what the pay off is for such aggression. You’d think after a while it would be old news and they would grow up. I hope things go back to situation normal for you soon!

    • Hi Dee! Thanks for your kind comments. Who know’s? Just a bunch of drongos, I think. Still, by the looks of the other comments I got here – my problem is small fry. Thanks for stopping by:)

  7. Hi, Jane. Me, again. I swear I’m not stalking. 🙂 I just came from J.C.’s which led me here…and to what you were alluding to on Twitter today. Seriously, these things are just a pain. And with so many sites, passwords, etc… These people should be strung up by their… Well, you know.
    I hope you have a better end to the week, my friend.


    • Hey James! You are welcome here anytime. Thanks for your kind words. This experience has shown me what wonderfully, supportive friends I have on Twitter (if I didn’t know that already!). It’s so great how everyone has rallied around. Speak soon:)

  8. My critique partner had her Twitter account hacked several weeks after she started. It was the same message over and over about making money at home. She managed to change her password and it stopped but she was embarrassed that the message went out to new Twitter friends.
    I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this too.

    • Hey Stephanie! Good to see you here. Sorry to hear about your friend. Thank goodness it didn’t put her off so early in her experience. Not pleasant. Thanks for your comment:)

  9. Hi Jane.
    I coompletely sympathise. My email account was recently hacked and spammed my entire address book. My account was frozena dn I had to jump through a lot of hoops to get it back.
    Here is a tale (true) from a close friend of mine. She recently was short on cash, and on the bad advice of a friend she spplied for short term loans online. Soon after she started recieving threatening phone calls and voice messages from a man with a middle eastern accent telling her…. “I have all of your information. Your phone number your house number, your bank account, and your social secutrity number. If you do not pick up the phone and make a deal withme right now I am coming to your house right now and you will be sorry.” etc… She managed to get the voicemail files recorded and called the police. They merely sent her an email address to forward them to and have not followed up as of yet.
    The bottom line is this. NEVER send any information over the internet that you would not post on a public bulletine board next tot he other cards advertising lost pets and offers to mow your lawn for 20P. If you must make a transaction online or send sensitive information make sure that the secure icon at the bottom right of your browser window is lit up and you have a secure connection.
    Secondly never open or forward anything that you are unsure of. If you didn’t enter it, or order it, then DO NOT open it.
    Follow all of the advice in all of the posts above and you have a small degree of assurance. (Hackers can and do randomly hack IP adresses) Above all report anything suspicious with any of your accounts sooner than later.
    My best wishes and hopes that this is resolved for you soon.

    -Brian Randleas

    • Hi Brian! I am so sorry to hear of both yours and your friends experiences. That really is awful. I’ve just changed my social media passwords across the board. Thanks so much for your great advice too.

  10. If it makes you feel any better, someone created a adult website account in my name and we only found it because we got a call from the credit card company asking if I really meant to apply for a second card…

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