Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cyber-bullies (fiction)

---Disclaimer---
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is due to laziness on the part of the author and lack of vigilance on the part of the proofreader. 
---End Disclaimer---


Jetta slammed her smartphone down on the school lunch table.  “This girl is on my last nerve….and there ain’t much left of that one, either.”

Jacob took a peek at the screen.  Arching his left eyebrow he asked, “A friend of yours?”

Scott picked up the phone and read it.  “Jetta.  Your a NASTY. SMELLY. BITCH.”  He handed it back and said, “Nice!  Pity it is anonymous. They could use a grammar lesson.”

Jetta said, “It is Paige Doe.”

Jacob said, “She graduated last year.  I thought she went off to college.”

Jetta said, “Maybe so.  But she is back now.”

Scott asked, “How do you know it is her?”

Jetta said, “I ride into school with Ricky West.  They dated last year.  She started cyber-stalking him from the University and she got extremely inappropriate.  Ricky has younger sisters.  His dad found out about it and filed a restraining order.  Now she is back and really pissed.  She thinks I have the hots for Ricky.”

Scott asked, “Well do you?”

Jetta said, “Well, do I what?”

Scott said, “Do you have a thing for Ricky?”

Jetta said, “Get real.  I mean, he is a good looking guy, he lifts weights and is nice enough…but he doesn’t have a brain in his head and he is stuck on himself.  Besides, who needs a boyfriend who has an ex as crazy as the chick in that old movie, Fatal Attraction?  I already half expect to find my pet cat in the crock-pot when I come home from school."

Scott asked, “How long has she been doing this?”

Jetta said, “She has been doing it for about a month now.  It just never ends.  They come in at all times of the day and night. She is dissing me on every social media site I belong to. It is really pissing me off.”

Jacob asked, “So what are you going to do?”

Jetta said, “I am going to have to change my phone number and all my social media accounts.  It is a royal pain.  The thing that really pisses me off is she is probably doing this to 6 other kids and there is no way we can push back.”

Jacob said, “And you would be wrong.”  He looked a couple of tables over to where the nerds sat and said, “Hey, Tony, come over here for a minute, willya.”

It had been perfectly obvious to the entire Class of 2015 that Tony had the worlds biggest crush on Jetta since 4th grade.  The only two people who were oblivious to it were Jetta and Tony.

Tony sat down.  “What’s the problem?”

The problem was quickly explained to him.

Tony asked Jetta, “Do you know her phone number?”

Jetta replied, “Yeah, sure.  It is 555-1234”

Tony told the table, “The biggest problem with fixing this kind of problem is maintaining something called ‘plausible denyability’.  But I think I can help Jetta out if one of you guys can swing by the lost-and-found at the mall and pick up a pre-paid phone with some minutes left on it.  Just be sure the phone has a mini-USB port and at least ten minutes left on it.”

----The next day----

Scott slid a phone over to Tony and Jetta.  Tony suggested that Scott and Jacob take a walk.  Tony ran a cable from his laptop to the mini-USB port on the phone.  It took him less than 30 seconds to download the file.

He looked over at Jetta.  “When you want your pound of flesh, go to “Messages” and send the top message in “Drafts”.  Then pull the battery out of the phone and pitch the phone.”

Jetta looked at Tony.  “What is the message?”

Tony said, “The message says, 'Katy Doe phone number 555-12??: Cyber bullying has consequences.'  I also nabbed a picture of her off her Facebook page and put that in the message."

Jetta snorted, “Yeah, like that is going to do any good.”

Tony said, “It will if it goes out to the right people and is repeated enough times.”

Jetta looked interested.  “Whaddya mean.”

Tony said, “My dad told me that the guys at work used to play a lot of practical jokes on each other.  They would pimp each other by filling out the blow-in subscription cards from raunchy magazines with their co-worker’s name and address.  And then one day, a guy screwed up the address and the magazines ended up in a neighbor’s mail box.  There were LOTS of fireworks after that.”

Jetta prodded, “What are you saying?”

Tony continued, “Your message is set up to activate an automatic email program on a router that is based off-shore.  That program sends the message through changing, anonymous IP addresses. Think spam-bots. I set the message up to go to 102 phone numbers.  I figured that it would be a good thing if her family also received this message.  And since most family plans assign sequential numbers it is pretty easy to make that happen.  At while I was at it, I figured we might as well send the message to all of the phone numbers with the same, first five digits as Paige.”

Jetta dismissed the idea.  “Big deal.  Those 99 other people will just blow it off.  They will figure it was a fat-fingers mistake.”

Tony smiled a saintly, scary smile.  “They won’t blow it off if the same message is delivered every five minutes, twenty-four hours a day for the next three days.  That is over a thousand messages. It is an automated program.  And the host cannot be subpeonaed because they are not in the United States.  Somebody will call the cellphone carrier and complain.  The carrier will investigate and probably cancel the family’s plan for violation of terms-of-use.”

“Wait a minute.” Jetta exclaimed.  “You said this message was going to 102 phone numbers.  Who are the other two?”

Tony said, “There are two judges in this county who issue restraining orders. Neither one is known for their sense of humor.  You can guess what the other two numbers are.  Remember:  Plausible denyability. If you are really, really sure that Paige is the one who is harassing you, push the SEND button when nobody is looking and pitch the phone.”

“The best way to get a lot of work done is to motivate others to do it for you.  I think there will be a lot of very motivated people in the next three days.  Just remember to keep your mouth shut.  Not everybody appreciates being the hammer of Karma.”

Jetta looked Tony in the eyes and said, "Thanks Tony.  You are a prince."  Then Jetta pressed the SEND button, popped the back off the phone and pried the battery out.  She offered the battery to Tony, who took it.  A man can never have too many batteries.    Then she slid the phone, sans battery, into her backpack.

---Later that day---

One curiosity about living near the state capital is that the various dignitaries and bureaucrats shop in the same stores as "regular" folks.  It was a pure fluke that the first five digits of the Commandant of the State Police's personal cell phone number were the same as Paige Doe's.

The Commandant was beyond annoyed by the second hour.  He buzzed the Director of Cyber-Crimes and asked him to step over to his office.  "I hate asking for personal favors.  But can the lab figure out how to stop these messages from hitting my phone?"

"Sure, boss." the Director said.  He looked at the messages.  "You know police are supposed to investigate when we have evidence that a crime might have been committed.  Do you want some of my brighter techs to look into this?"

The Commandant replied, "Yeah, that is probably a good idea.  This cyber-bullying seems to be at the root of all kinds of violence.  We would look like idiots if we did not act on this and something happened."

Paige Doe moved to Arizona the next week.  She has an aunt and uncle out there.


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