I've been living a living nightmare and I can't seem to wake up. I've learned last month that I am a victim of ID Theft of the worst kind and scared to death, that I'll be facing jail time to an online scam that I played no part in.
I've turn to two forums now for help and advice. I've already reported this to the local police, the fbi, federal trade commission, am placing a credit alert on my credit file, informed my past & current bank, and even froze my own bank account on my own.
The link above is where I first posted this and I have updated it as I've gone along with things and tried to work with the local authorities. Below is a quote from my first post from there...
What is the name of your state? Massachusetts
If I have this in the wrong forum, please forgive me.
OK, to give you the full idea of what is going on, let me say that it may have all started when someone gave me a free domain & following my computer being hacked into for over 1yr.
A few years ago, when I was younger and knew so very little about using the Internet. Someone gave me a domain for free. I was young (17 - 18) and thought to myself, "Great I've got a free web site". Most young teens / young adults love the idea of getting something for nothing and I too was one of them. As it turned out though, the web site had been used for a program that gave out free serials and cracks for other programs (which is illegal). It turns out the previous owner may have upset a few people and continued to claim that the site was his... Even though it was mine & with my name, address in the "who is" info (which is public record). From time too time, I'd get threats and a bunch of script kiddies who would either try to hack my web site or e-mail me computer viruses. But I tried to pay no mind to it and deleted the e-mails and ignore things, as I know I had done no wrong.
Anyways, fast forward a few years latter (about 2yr latter). I've almost forgotten about the site, but now my computer is (was) being hacked into. I define hacked into as someone kept using my IP as a target. My ISP (Comcast) would do almost nothing about it and just would run me through the normal steps, as they would anyone else. I knew my computer was being hacked, as I would watch things get moved around, deleted, computer settings would change, and I even had a small chat with my "hacker" on my pc. I tried just about everything I could to rid myself of this "hacker" and god know I even hired an administrator to review my current setup and to see how I could make my system more secure. Turns out, even her computer was hacked into while she was on my connection. I tried so many things (more then I will get into detail about here).
Maybe I should have cut my connection off and changed ISP's. But sadly Comcast was & is the only cable ISP who has legal run in my city (can we say Monopoly?). Also I wasn't going to let some "punk" kid kick me off line. After all, I have the right to use my computer online, just as anyone.
Now (end of 2004, start of 2005) after fighting my ISP and trying to secure my computer, I finally got rid of the hacker. Though both I & Comcast could never find out who or where he/she was from. As he/she used enough "proxies" to hide his/her tracks. But the problem continues....
I started to get e-mails from people, saying I owe them money or goods. Like any user, I just deleted these and thought they where online scams. If you use e-mail, you seem them all the time. Suddenly you have an e-mail telling you that you've got fund in your name or some bill that you've over looked, or suddenly some bank needs your info. Odds are a lot of people get these & sadly too many people fall for them, but I have always known better & deleted such junk (scams).
So when I was getting these e-mails from people, saying I owed them money or they never got their goods. I just thought it was junk (a scam). A little while, I even got a few e-mails from what claimed to be "Paypal" saying I had got money from people and to view it, I could log into my account. I hadn't had a paypal account in over 2 - 3 years, so I thought it to be even more junk / scam mail.
The letter started to stop for a while, so this confirmed my way of thinking, that this was some ugly online scam. But then the e-mails started picking up, with people saying they wanted their stuff. It wasn't until someone sent me an e-mail with my current IP, e-mail address, and with a claim that I had defaced their web site, that I really started to notice something maybe wrong here. I also noticed that some of these letters even started to get person (had my first & last name).
Finally the big one... Someone sent me an e-mail with my full name, old address, phone number, and had claimed that I had sold stuff on a few online forums. They also said that unless I refunded their money or mailed their goods, that I was going to be facing people in court. There was a link in it, that directed me too an online forum and sure enough, there was a bunch of people who said they had bought stuff from someone online. I wasn't dumb enough to click the link in the e-mail, but I did find the info on Google (google.com).
With in the thread, was a link back to my old domain (the one I got for free) and my old contact info. There was over 100+ people claiming they where in touch with local police and some people claimed they where in contact with The FBI. Now, this was enough to scare the hell out of me and it still does. Because I was now getting e-mails from "Paypal" that there were complaints about me.
I didn't know what to do, so I e-mailed paypal and informed them that I do not have an account with them. They claimed I did and that I owed them for all the charge backs that took place under my account. Now as I did have one a few years back, but these people say this took place this past December / January. So it's safe to say, someone was using my ID (the hacker?)
Anyways, during this time, I no longer have my job & to be very truthful, I'm poor. Made less then 10,000 last year (to give you an idea how poor I am). I was just starting to working for a very good place & they paid me hourly and commission (enough to make a fair living). I thought that maybe my hard work in life had just paid off & after they made me manager; I was feeling very good. This was also the first time; I had ever used direct deposit. I'd always liked seeing the check in hand when I was younger, but the idea of it going right into the bank, seemed like a cool idea. I was sad to see my company fold under & I really did like that job. Guess you can say, being laid off didn't sit well with me. The company still owed me my holiday pay, so I knew I would be ok for a while.
So after seeing all these sudden complaints from people, saying I sold them stuff and with my domain & this other forum, now showing my name, old address, my old e-mail, my currently e-mail, my ip (cause I think the hacker used me as a proxy), my old phone number, and with paypal saying I had an account, I thought to look over my old bank account statements. I should have done this long time ago, but I've been one of those people who just check his balance, by only going to the ATM. I know a lot of other people who do this and maybe it's not the smart way of doing things, but it "was" (no longer) my way & always seemed to be good enough for me.
I had long closed my old account and moved everything into a new account, to avoid bank fees (before I knew about any of this). Moved the entire funds, into a local state savings bank. I've been using what I thought to be my last holiday pay & with commission pay, to start up a new company (so I haven't had a job outside of the house). Turns out that "some" of those missing funds (not even close to all), may indeed have ended up in my old bank account.
I'm down to about 200.00 left & it's clear that I did do no harm, directly. I "may" have tracked about 1,300 worth of fund that may have ended in my account and there are claims larger then that on the forum I visited. So I know I didn't get all that cash, but I'm willing to bet someone else (the hacker or the person doing the theft) did. At this moment there is no way I could pay back that 1,300 & I do not feel I should have to pay back the large amount people seem to be claiming. There maybe an FBI investigation & there are people from USA, Canada, and maybe even The UK, all claiming I scammed them (which I know I didn't).
So today I admit I'm scared, lost, confused, and have no clue what to do. Standing from the outside and looking in and suddenly hearing all this, it's enough to make me think even I look guilty (though I know for a fact, I'm not).
Since this has all happen, I have reported this all to the police. However, I am also starting to get stuff both in the mail and stuff left on my back door. Thus far I've been given 1 pc case, 1 cpu, 1 dvd-rw, 1 ant farm, and I keep getting ants in the mail now. I do not have the money to be ordering these things and I do not have a bank account I can use, credit card, debit card, ect... So there is no way I could have ordered these and I know for a fact I didn't.
Since I have learned of all this, there is now a whole dedicated site made by all the people who got scammed by the person claiming to be me. Imagine learning there is over 100+ upset people who think you scammed them out of their hard worked for funds & now there is a domain with your name on it (my-name.com).
The biggest problem I'm having is trying to separate the real me and the freak who is saying he/she is me. The person used my name, address, phone number, birth date, open bank accounts in my name (such as paypal), use my bank account also, used my pc remotely, and may even had access to my e-mail.
I'm scared & I don't like this feeling of being totally helpless and having no control of my life. If anyone has any advice, please let me know.