Jilted ex’s vindictive online revenge campaign sends NSW single dad into hospital

Article by Mark Saunokonoko /
Nine.com.au /
June 08, 2017 /
Click here to view original /

Tim realised something was wrong when he woke up and found 90 new emails from a website called Russian Brides.

It was only a beginning.

A jilted ex-girlfriend had just pulled the trigger on a vindictive online revenge campaign that would send the single dad from NSW to hospital and living in fear he would get sacked.

The steady stream of emails from websites he’d never visited and companies he’d never heard of almost instantly became a tidal wave.

In a matter of weeks, the 41-year-old had been bombarded with more than 2600 random messages to his work email account, almost all in breach of his employer’s IT policies.

On top of mail from prospective Russian brides, or at least the automated bots posing as women, there was an offensive blitz of messages from websites advertising brides from Thailand and the Philippines.

Emails touting penis enlargements and hair loss treatments from clinics in Sydney poured in, as did information about purchasing adult diapers and tickets to the Michigan state lottery.

Tim’s ex had also set up a string of malicious profiles on fetish, hetero and gay dating sites, all listing his work and personal contact details, every one of them urging contact from strangers.

There was even a profile on a website connecting singles with sexually transmitted diseases, and Tim was (falsely) infected with them all: HIV, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, the works.

“Looking for other guys that have the same infection, to do naughty stuff with,” the fake ad read.

“The list of sites sending me mail was incredibly long,” Tim (not his real name) told nine.com.au.

“I was even getting a bible reading every 20 minutes from a Christianity website.”

Tim’s story is a cautionary tale of just how easy someone can become a victim of a sustained and vicious online attack.

The NSW couple’s romance lasted about six months before it hit the skids.

Emma (not her real name) had moved in to a new house built by Tim but soon after love turned to resentment when he claimed she failed to contribute to household expenses.

One night it reached boiling point and they broke up during a heated argument which proved a dark harbinger of things to come.

In the midst of a charged verbal fight, Emma took a knife from the kitchen drawer and started to cut herself.

Tim’s ex girlfriend set up malicious accounts on fetish websites, urging gay men to contact him. Source: Supplied
Tim’s ex girlfriend set up malicious accounts on fetish websites, urging gay men to contact him. Source: Supplied

“At the time I thought it was suicide … but it wasn’t, she was just cutting,” Tim said.

“She begged me to take the knife off her.

“I took it but she went and grabbed another one and started to sharpen it. I thought she was going to kill herself.”

Fearing the worst, Tim called the police. But while he was on the 000 call, Emma dropped a bombshell.

“She said when the police get here I will tell them you tried to rape me,” Tim said.

In the aftermath of that tumultuous evening, Emma moved out several days later.

And it didn’t take long for the avalanche of messages to swamp his work email address.

Facebook warning

“My job was put at risk, my ability to provide for my daughter was put at risk,” Tim said.

Waiting for a tap on the shoulder from his IT department, Tim, a sales manager for a national company, decided to let his boss know what was unfolding.

He broke down explaining the situation and his boss was “sympathetic”.

“They could have gone down a completely different track and fired me over work email policies,” he said.

He sent Emma countless emails begging her to stop, but she ignored his pleas.

Helpless, Tim went to his local police station but was informed that without proof his ex had created the offending profiles that they could not investigate or lay charges.

Tim’s sales’ numbers began to drop away at work, and his stress levels increased.

One day, hit with a huge pain in his chest, he was forced into the emergency room of a hospital.

Mechanic stalker

Doctors believed the incident was stress-related, and Tim took some time away from work.

Finally, after repeated efforts to get Russian Brides to remove his account, the online dating company sent him an email which contained details of the person who had created the profile.

There it was, the breakthrough he needed: his ex’s email account in black and white.

Tim returned to the police and was told they could now charge her with “a fraud related offence”.

But it was going to get worse before it got better.

“I was very angry one night and had registered her interest on a website to get labiaplasty surgery,” Tim said.

“That was wrong, I admit that. But she got two emails and I got 2000.”

Cruel stalker sentenced

In response to the threat of charges, Emma told Tim she would go straight to police in a tit for tat battle.

She also upped the stakes and told him she would take out an AVO against him.

The pair then negotiated a kind of peace treaty and agreed to not press charges against one another.

But Emma wasn’t done.

Breaking their agreement, Emma went to court using emails that Tim had sent her demanding she take down the fake accounts and secured an AVO against him.

Tim told nine.com.au none of his messages were threatening, but the frequency that he had mailed Emma had allowed her to have the AVO issued.

Lover’s revenge

Dr Lauren Rosewarne, a senior lecturer in Social and Political Sciences at University of Melbourne, told nine.com there is very little people like Tim can do in such a situation.

“It is horrible,” Dr Rosewarne said.

“Prosecuting electronic crime on the internet is very, very difficult.”

“Whether it’s finding love, masturbating or stalking, the internet makes it easier and more efficient to do all of that with a much larger audience.”

Forcing online dating companies to change the way their accounts can be so easily manipulated to target unsuspecting victims is just fanciful thinking, Dr Rosewarne said.

“You can’t regulate the internet.”

A NSW police spokesperson told nine.com.au that IP addresses of people who set up fake profiles of intended victims can, in certain circumstances, be tracked.

However, the actions police are able to take will differ on each case.

The creation of profiles on dating and fetish websites to defame someone would involve a civil court, the police spokesperson said.

Tim said local police seemed unsure and unclear about what laws may have broken when he told them his story.

Falling outside the more obvious crimes of sextortion and revenge porn, there were indications it could be fraud or some kind of identity theft, Tim said.

“I’m a big guy and I don’t cry easy. But I’ve been in tears … over this three or four times,” he said.