As Mistah X taunted James, his IMs filling the screen, James called Amy: He had the creep online. They talked about calling the cops, but no sooner had James said the words than the hacker reprimanded him. The task of hunting him down fell to agents Tanith Rogers and Jeff Kirkpatrick of the FBI's cyber program in Los Angeles."I know you're talking to each other right now! James's throat constricted; how did the stalker know what he was saying? Since its founding in 2002, the program's cyber squads have worked out of a cluttered, bustling office on Wilshire Boulevard, a maze of cubicles that looks more like the office of a video-game company than of a federal agency.I have always talked to thank a good cam girl after I wet myself.
But at some point, each of them looked up and noticed the same strange thing: the tiny light beside their webcam glowing.
Kirkpatrick, a programming expert, spent over a decade working in information security in the private sector.
While Rogers often takes the lead consoling victims and grilling suspects, Kirkpatrick can wade through thousands of lines of code to find the slightest abnormality.
Attached to the note was a file labeled simply SCARY. Yeah, the IM had come from her account, but she hadn't sent it. That night, Suzy's 20-year-old friend Nila Westwood got the same note, the same attachment. When she called her friend to see what she'd missed, things actually got freaky: Suzy'd never sent a thing.
Melissa wondered why her goof-off sister was IM'ing from the next room instead of just padding over—she wasn't usually that lazy—so she walked over to see what was up. Unlike Melissa, she opened it, expecting, say, a video of some guy stapling his lip to his chin on You Tube. The girls pieced together the clues and agreed: Suzy's AOL account had been hacked.
Every online scam begins more or less the same—a random e-mail, a sketchy attachment.