Tonight I used my card at the carry out across the street to buy a delicious bottle of Bogle Cabernet.
“Decline,” my little Indian buddy said with the same passion she says all of her 8 English words she has picked up over the past 10 years.
Embarrassed, I requested she try it again.
“Hold the wine, I’ll be back in a sec.” I was not only pissed but embarrassed. She said “decline” twice, louder than she should have.
I stepped outside and called the bank. My hands were shaking by now. Not from not having alcohol but because I was nervous it was happening all over again.
See, in 2012 I sat in my cubicle as I checked my bank account one Friday morning to find that the $800 paycheck that had just been added to my account was not only depleted, but I was negative almost $200. 5 minutes later I was running to my car ready to sort this out at the bank.
My card was immediately shut down and a fraud case opened. As cliche as this sounds, you never think it’s going to happen to you. The bank was cool about it and refunded my money a week later.
They messed with the wrong person. Not only am I persistent but I have Italian blood running through my veins. My father taught me that you don’t get mad, you get even. Not the best life lesson but I know what I needed to do. This wasn’t going to be business as usual: innocent victim reports identity fraud to the bank, a fraud file is opened, money reimbursed, hacker gets off with the money, no one gets hurt. This wasn’t going to work for me.
I scoured my account print outs of all my money they had spent. I came to realize the majority of the expenditures were on web hosting. These little entrepreneurial fuckers were using my money to start a business. I was like their unaffluent angel investor.
I didn’t know how I was going to find my hacker(s) or how to get revenge but I knew something would happen if I paid attention to the clues. As I was calling each company to attempt to get the charges reversed, I had one of the companies not only confirm they would reverse the charges but also gave me the names of the suspicious websites. Having an e-commerce background I knew I could look up the owner of these sites and go from there. This was contingent upon this person being lazy and not making his info private. Turns out, he was lazy.
I took his name and began to do searches with Google, sometimes adding the word “hacker”. Sites written in a language I didn’t understand began to populate.
‘Well this is going to be slightly difficult.’ I thought, considering I didn’t even know what country I was dealing with. I took a few sentences, popped them in Google Translate and ta-dah-Vietnamese.
I went on a few of these sites and found posts from my hacker. ‘Who do I know that speaks Vietnamese?’ I wondered. I knew zero person to speak Vietnamese.
This wasn’t going to stop me. I Googled Vietnamese Translator and my city and found a few. After explaining my situation to one of these Translators, he agreed to translate these posts for free for me.
After additional detective work, I even found my hacker on Facebook. My hacker was a 22 year old boy living in Hanoi! On Facebook he bragged about being a hacker. It took everything in me not to go ballistic on his page and rip him a new one. I held back knowing that ironically Facebook would deem me the crazy one and I would be penalized.
My office wall began to look like A Beautiful Mind with print outs and pictures and yarn connecting different graphics with articles and the translations of what my hacker had said.
I was ready to go to the Feds on this one. Looking back on this, I probably seemed like the crazy person here as I started at the top with the Secret Service as well as the FBI. I gave them ALL my findings. Go big or go home, right?
“Mam, we’re talking hundreds of dollars here. With that little amount of money, there really isn’t anything we can do. We’ll check into a few things though,” the bored FBI Representative said on the other end of the phone. That was the first and last communication I had with either organization.
My next plan of attack was to contact the Vietnamese Embassy. I told you I was persistent. I envisioned a wise old Vietnamese man reading my e-mail and the Grandfather in him vowing to find this little ass hole and throw him in Broken Down Palace or something. Instead, I received this response:
I was flustered and began to feel hopeless that we would indeed follow the normal path and this guy would get away with it. No one was taking me seriously and blew me off.I was serving up a criminal on a silver platter to 2 nations. I mean, I even had pictures of this dude and his new bride. There was a donkey standing in the background of their wedding photo. I found this endearing.
After several days of the run around and no results I was done. Obviously I had to be the revenge.
Don’t get mad, get even, played over and over in my head.
I had this kid’s e-mail address as well as his Facebook profile. This was going to cost a little but you can’t make money if you don’t spend it. Ok, that has no correlation but sounded good at the time.
I signed that mother fucker up for every inappropriate dating site I could find. I leaned mostly towards sites focused on men finding men since he clearly didn’t swing that way. Sure, I’m sure several had authentication procedures but there were some sites I know couldn’t afford this extra level of security. If this ass hole was going to hack me, I was going to hack him right back.
Fast forward 4 years. My card was locked because of some moron charging a whopping $1.78 at a Steak and Shake in Florida. I have not been to Florida since 2007. If you’re going to steal my identity, please don’t insult me with Steak and Shake. Fucking go to Ruth Chris or Shula’s for God’s sake.