I received one of those emails, written to make you feel very lonely. It got right to it: “xxxxx is your password.” (Yes, it was mine, all right.) “You don’t know me but I know you very well and you must be wondering why you are receiving this mail, correct?” (You bet I was.) “I actually setup malware on porn vids (porno) & do you know what, you visited this adult website to have pleasure if you know what I mean … and you were doing nasty things … When you were watching videos, your web browser started working as a RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) that has a key logger which provided me access to your system as well as your webcam recordings. Just after that, the software obtained every one of your contacts from messenger, fb, and email.”
He (or could it possibly be she?) went on in similar brutish and ungrammatical fashion to say that if I made a one-time payment of $1,900 he would “destroy the video immediately … Frankly, I am ready to remove about you and let you continue with your life.”
He didn’t add “Scout’s honor,” but it had that sound to it.
He seemed quite bored with me as if he couldn’t wait to settle this trivial business once and for all and get back to torturing his pets. A few more words on how to pay followed and a warning to make my lustful flesh tremble: “If I do not receive the Bitcoin, I will definately (his spellchecker is as illiterate as he is) send your sextape to all of your contacts including close relatives, colleagues, and so on.”
Now, I don’t think of myself as a stuffed shirt — I’ve traveled the world as a newspaperman — but I have never watched pornographic movies or recorded sex tapes. As a normally healthy adolescent I looked at a few books but found them either so repugnant or boring that I’ve never been tempted since. (I’ve had six children instead.) So I knew without a doubt that the entire gambit was a sordid bluff.
I found out a few days later that thousands — probably tens of thousands — of other presumed perverts like me had received the same email, but at the time, however squeaky clean you are, a message like this, with its implication of shared pleasure with such low life — wink, wink, nudge, nudge — makes you feel grimy and since 30% of all data passing over the internet is said to be porn-related, its menacing tone must have upset a lot of people.
It’s hard to think that anyone with enough gray cells to have any money in the bank at all could fall for the idea that paying the ransom would be anything other than the first of a lifetime of installments, but people panic over much less.
I took a copy to the local sheriff’s office. “You didn’t give him any money, did you?” the deputy at the desk asked. “No? Then there’s no crime. There’s nothing we can do.” How’s that for a Catch-22?
The email came a few weeks ago and though he gave me only a day to pay up “or else,” I’m still waiting for everyone I know — relatives, colleagues, the friendly woman at the supermarket check-out counter, my children’s former schoolteachers, the librarian, the pharmacist, the phlebotomist “and so on” — to burst in on me with packages of the incriminating tapes in their hands, shaking with indignation and shouting, “If I’d known what you watched in here, I’d have visited you long before now.”
Meanwhile, gentlemen, let’s all vow not to do anything that would let a creep like this ruin our lives.