I never thought I would be a victim of cyber terrorism. When people would claim their computer had been hacked, I would roll my eyes and look upward and think, “Oh, come on.” Until it happened to me.
Spyware is real. For months, I always had a feeling someone was watching everything I did on my computer, but I chalked it up to paranoia. Sometimes, as I was working, the cursor/arrow would move across the page or extra windows would open. Again, I passed it off as paranoia and thought my mouse pad was extra sensitive or something. A typo would show up in my Twitter bio or in an important e-mail I was writing and I would question it and wonder how it got there. No, I know I’m not perfect. I have typos often, but these were simple typos…typos that a writer wouldn’t have. And I began to get weirded out. But I still kept using my computer because I had no choice. I’m broke and couldn’t get another one.
One day, I was going about my business on FB and something happened to erase all doubt that I had been hacked. I was typing a status update on Fox 45’s FB page (which has thousands of “likes”) and the end of the sentence happened to get cut off even though I knew I proofread it a few times. Can we say “freak out”?
I started going crazy and typing status updates to let my FB friends and family know what was going on. As I was typing the status update, the cursor began to move over the words I knew I had typed and were replaced by random letters as if someone was trying to stop me from posting the status update. “I’m trying to write and can’t” was the sentence I was trying to get out. The person on the other end of my computer inserted “trying” twice and I knew, then, that it was time to get rid of my computer.
I began to put two and two together and remembered the time that I wrote a status update that read, “I hope my friend can find the bastards who hacked my computer.” Well, that’s what I intended to write, but when I went back to the status a few minutes later, it read, “I hope my friend CAN’T find the bastards who hacked my computer.” Again, I know I make typos, but not like that. That’s when I knew that someone was trying to sabotage me.
It was like my life was flashing before my eyes. I began to think of all the incidents that happened previously that smelled like sabotage. Let me break them down for you.
After my ex-publisher terminated my contract, I tried to log into FB and got a message saying that I couldn’t go by the name T.C. Galltin. I had been going by that name for months. FB has this rule that users have to identify themselves by their full first and last name. I managed to bypass it by not inserting periods in my first name so FB would recognize it as my first name. Why is this important? Because the name on my book is T.C. Galltin. My readers wouldn’t know that my first name is Tynette because I had been going by T.C. for so long. Okay, so I got over that and created a FB page for T.C. Galltin to tell people my real name and direct them to my Zaire’s Place FB page.
So, since my ex-publisher terminated my contract because I questioned my royalty check and I was left without a book on the market, I got the idea to publish it as an e-book. I edited it, created a new cover, which I did on my own with no outside help because no one entered my book cover contest. (We’ll come back to that point later.)
I go to publish my book with Amazon and get a message from them questioning whether I’m the author of my own book. I slaved over that book for months…years…and was appalled. “Does this have anything to do with my ex-publisher?” I asked them. Rather than wait for an answer, I forwarded the e-mail from my ex-publisher that said they were terminating my contract and that all rights for my novel would revert back to me. I also told them that the situation between me and my ex-publisher was ugly and that they threatened to sue me if I said anything “injurious” to their reputation. My ex-publisher also had said that even if I delete them from my FB friends list, they would still be able to monitor me. A red flag went up at that. Anyway, once I sent Amazon the e-mail from my ex-publisher, they went ahead and published Zaire’s Place. I suspect someone had reported me to Amazon trying to block me from re-publishing my book.
Speaking of being monitored. Every time I said something about my ex-publisher, I was always reported to FB in a hot nanosecond. Either I had spies among my FB friends or someone had to be monitoring what I said somehow in order to report me that quick to FB. Uber weird.
Anyway, things seemed to be going smoothly and I was getting back into the flow of having a published book. All of a sudden, I noticed a scathing review of my novel on my Zaire’s Place FB page. It was weird because days had passed and I wasn’t getting notifications for my ZP FB page, so that post from Robin Ro Roden went unnoticed for days. In her “review”, she blasted me as a person. She said that I must hate my race because I chose to jump into the skin of a prejudiced white woman and on and on. And I’m putting it lightly. It was clearly a personal attack against me rather than just not liking my novel, which would have been fine with me. But don’t attack me personally. This chick was nasty. Real nasty.
Robin said she would tell EVERYONE not to buy my book yadda yadda. And check this out. Robin used to be a FB friend of mine that I added because she knew a fellow author, Tyfa Hill, that I added as a FB friend. I knew neither one of them personally but added them anyway just to increase my professional circle. Robin’s posts would be outrageous and very immature, so I deleted her and Tyfa from my FB friends list. Then that scathing review for the rerelease of my novel shows up. In it she also said that Tyfa gave me advice about my new cover. Tyfa never gave me advice about the cover of my novel. The only conversation Tyfa and I had was about using CreateSpace to re-publish my book and that wasn’t even a detailed conversation. She just told me I should consider using them.
At any rate, I didn’t bother responding to Robin’s FB post on my page because I heard that it was best not to respond to trolls. Now I wish I would have ignored that advice because she got away with damaging my reputation without me saying a word. Oh, and let’s not forget that she said I should quit using the name T.C. before I “get a lawsuit”. Um, how can I get a lawsuit for using my own name? Stupid.
An aside: Let me say that there are a lot of fake accounts in cyberspace. Publishers set them up so they can hype up their authors in order to sell more books. Boyfriends/girlfriends set them up so they can catch a cheating lover in the act. For legal reasons, I won’t say more about that, but I think there are plenty of fake accounts out there that are being used to achieve malicious aims. Let’s move on.
So, there I am with the computer version of “Christine” and I didn’t know what to do. A friend of mine who happens to be a computer whiz said he would look at my computer for me. Unfortunately, he didn’t find anything. I know for a fact that my computer is/was hacked. Too many strange things were happening for it not to be. I still believe that the cyber criminals are still living in my electronic home and I think their hacking scam is larger than just my computer (I plan to do another blog post on that in the future). These cyber criminals are professionals. They know how to go undetected by virus scanning systems and they are thugs who will do anything to achieve their mission of lying, cheating and defrauding people.
Please be careful out there, people. Spyware and hackers are real.