Monday, August 26, 2013

Mela, the Cyber Crook! True Story!

Good afternoon!!! Well it’s good and it’s afternoon in Bucharest, Romania. Depending on your location, things might be a little different.

I’m writing this blog, more so because of David, who – after hearing the story – thought it would definitely be an awesome subject for a short story. It happened almost a month ago. The reason why I didn’t do anything about it until now, it’s because I needed to get through the initial shock, then deal with the after math of the “horror” and then laugh about it. Now that things have settled back to a decent level of normality, I can tell you the story of Mela, the cyber crook, the true villain of the internet world.

I warn you it’s quite a long lecture, but it’ll be worth while reading considering these are true facts and unfortunately, after it happened to me, I heard there were other cases just as mine among friends and colleagues. So read it more like a cautionary tale before anything else! MUAH

      J So, here goes nothing! J
1 august 2013, 11:26:23 GMT+03:00
Bucharest, Romania
Mela’s home

I just got a call from mom earlier that evening that my grandfather’s sister has had a second stroke and this time it has taken a toll on her body. She’s just been diagnosed with right side partial paralysis and so they’re going to keep her in the hospital for at least a week to figure out how much of her brain has been affected and if she’s ever going to walk again. This is not good; not good at all. It’s not only that, obviously a second stroke at 84 years of age is not good news, but if she can’t walk anymore that means she’ll need someone to take care of her 24/7 which puts us in an impossible situation.

Grandma is already taking care of grandpa who at almost 88 had suffered a stroke and his Alzheimer has turned him into a lovable child, but a child nonetheless, ready to mess up something at any moment if not monitored all the time. And grandma is not that young herself, so two elderly people with severe problems such as this is definitely way too much for her to handle. My grandpa’s sister is all alone: no husband, no children, no nothing. And she’s been in our care for many years. But this is something we just don’t know how to handle. Mom is working in a different town so helping grandma in babysitting the both of them is not an option. So at this point mom and I are discussing the possibilities before even being given a clear diagnosis. It’s always good to have a few options set aside for when the time comes to make a decision. So here I was, late at night, sleepless and restless, with this worry on my mind. I can’t sleep. I know mom’s in a tight spot right now and I’m trying to figure out how I can help her. We have a week to figure things out because afterwards the Romanian health system is going to put my aunt as I call her, right in our lap and kick us out and we won’t know what to do with her.

I do a little research on people with her condition and places where we could put her in that are specialized in taking care of someone with her problem. I don’t find much and whatever I find scares me. I’m annoyed. It’s almost midnight and even though I have to go to work the next day I can’t find that peace of mind to turn off the light and go to bed. So I start doing what I do best: write. I want to do some work on The Shack. And it so happens that I have the perfect mood to work on my two shabby creepy characters in the story: the two brothers living in the shack. I have a good feeling on how these two should look like. But from a feeling to actually describe them, it’s a long way.

What happens is, that before sitting down to write a script or story, I usually think my characters through. Especially with scripts. There is so much from a character that people don’t get to know when they watch a movie, but when you create that character he/she will be complete. They have an entire profile: name, birth date, family, how and where they grew up as well as relationships with people, friends and family, hobbies, plans for the future, secrets etc. These might never translate on the big screen but it will help me understand their reactions better in the story and it will give that perfect feeling of who they are to the people discovering them on the big screen.

So I’m working on their profile. And I want these two to be nasty, like the kind of nasty I can think of, but cannot really imagine before my eyes. I want them to be beyond evil, I want them to be sickening, dirty, physically and mentally, the kind of people that would give you the goose bumps and make your tongue curl in the mouth when you first look of them. The kind of people you’d want to turn around and leave just when meeting them. And for this, witchy me, has to mix in her magic pot a cocktail of evil, ugly, uneducated, psychotic, paranoid flavors with just a touch of cannibalism and zoophilia. I want them to be my main characters’ worse nightmares. I can do evil and cunning, even psychotic. But cannibalism and zoophilia is just a little beyond my reach. I have a cat that I adore; I can’t think zoophile thoughts hahaha. So this must be researched. How does a cannibal/zoophile act like, what drives them to do what they do?

I pull up a Google page and I’m bugging my mind with a word combination that would lead me to find some articles or something relevant to help out with a description of such cases. I put down cannibalism and I get all these murder cases and definitions of the word. Lots of media articles. I’m content with the search. It’s going smoothly and the info I get on the subject is helpful. Now the other one. I knew I would probably run into a lot of porn sites of the sort, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll get something sane out of all this. So I try my luck out there and type in zoophilia. I get a definition and a million porn sites. Yuck. I type in all sort of combinations between animal sex zoophilia articles. I get pretty much the same list. I put down zoophiles behavior. I am overwhelmed with porn. I don’t even need to access those links because I can’t tell beforehand what they are. Jesus Christ! I try one more search and I access this link that seems more appropriate. Looks like a blog of someone bitching at a woman trying to have sex with dogs and you should have seen my face reading it. It’s like I was eating bitter lemons. I scroll down the page thinking this is not what I want. As I reach the bottom, there is this small video, of about 4 minutes, that just keeps loading. I try to figure out what the video is about, but it keeps stopping and keeps loading. I realize it’s probably the video of the woman the guy’s bitching about and I’m like fuck it, go back to the main research link. As I hit the back button, the page blocks and I’m like, come’on! Then all of a sudden a hundred pop-outs appear, incredibly fast and out of nowhere and I can’t even click the mouse to close them and then… shut down!

My desktop goes black. And I’m sitting there on the edge of the bed looking like a confused Donald Duck, tilting my head left to right, waiting for my laptop to react after the pop-out avalanche. And then there was light. But not the light at the end of the tunnel, but the kind they use in interrogations. My beautiful personalized background stops functioning and I get an image of the Interpol on top of which I get a perfectly clear image of the Romanian Ministry of Internal Affairs seconded by the Service for Special Ops and Interventions nicely garnished by the Service for Fighting Cyber Crime. My eyes roll slowly over the small centered writing on top of the page. There’s the signature of all three services, the Romanian flag and all. A police car with lights on too. My heart skips a beat. No! I read further trying to keep it all under control. Beneath it says “with the assistance of McAfee Antivirus for cyber crime detection.” In the back of my head I’m thinking I have that damn antivirus. That mother**** is been working against me!!! I swallow in. Reading further.  A black box clearly states my country, name, computer IP, the Windows I use as well as my user name and internet provider. I DIE!!! And then I panic.

My hand shakes a bit as I scroll down, fully aware now that my computer has been shut down by the police for some cyber crime. And my panic is absolutely justified. I know there is legislation in place for illegal downloads and distribution of movies, pornography and other such materials and I’m thinking they were on to me for looking on zoophilia materials. I had actually read an article in a news paper that a guy was fined EUR 5,000 for something similar. No! This can’t be happening!  My brain refuses to believe it. After all, who the hell am I, so friggin’ important, that out of all 22 million people Romania has, the police would be tagging on me for distribution! HAHA NOT FUNNY! My brain literally functions with the speed of light trying to understand how this could happen. Maybe the police’s internet channels were monitoring some of the pages I accessed and it automatically linked them to me and that’s how I got here. Seriously?!?

Calm the fuck down girl! I set the laptop aside. I turn the TV off and I start walking around the room. My heart is racing against time. It’s midnight by now and I open the laptop still hoping that the Interpol image has gone away by itself. For a moment my nice desktop shows up. Then it goes black again and the Interpol laughs in my face. Fuck! And I cannot reiterate just how that fuck came out of my lips. So I walk again in circles until I find enough patience in my body to sit down and read the entire message.

They say my computer has been blocked under the suspicion of accessing, using and distributing pedophile, pornographic and zoophilia materials under this and this law. And the story goes on. They tell me how I’m going to jail, how the state will intent a criminal case against me. I keep reading. Five minutes later when I’m done, I’m literally waiting for the Special Ops people to break in through the door, pick my ass up and drag it to jail. Pajamas and all. I reluctantly get up and go to the door checking the hall way through the visor. The light is off. I guess they’re not here I’m thinking. I shake as I get back to the laptop with a second thought that I am a total idiot. Just to make things clear, I pull up my other PC and check for the definition of “criminal records”. My worst fears come true: I will have a criminal record if I get into a criminal law suit. DUH!!! Well, that would definitely suit my resume! And not only that I’ll have a criminal record; but I’ll have a criminal record for illegal distribution of illegal porn and zoophilia!!!

I fall back in the pillows thinking, well that’s another way of making a name for yourself. I love God and his taste of irony and beauty. He’s made me this way; to joke even in the worst of times because sometimes life is a black comedy. I smile in the corner of my lips but I feel lost. Well, hell if I’m going down without a fight! I didn’t download and distribute shit!

I open the laptop again. My heart still gallops in my chest, but this girl’s got a purpose now and my low blood pressure better keep it together ‘cause we’re about to engage the Cyber Crime Unit and we better be prepared. I take my notepad and I start writing down notes as I read through their message again. Some things do not add up. In my mind at least they don’t. I realize I have no legal training so I’m a bit in the dark. The laws they were stating – I had no clue what they were about. I rush to my other PC and I cautiously pull up on the internet the Penal Code. I’m thinking, are they gonna block this computer too? So I’m waiting for the inevitable to happen, but it doesn’t. I guess reading about criminal laws is not against the law. Hahaha.

I grab my laptop and set it on a chair to follow each item closely. Grasu’ comes over and lays at my feet looking at me with interest. I laugh shortly, kind of bitterly. If you knew what your momma is being charged with boy, you’d be running right now! That’s just such a sickening thought. I grin and I turn to my Penal Code research. I find those laws and start reading. God, it’s the holocaust! I need a dictionary to decipher legal language. I read fast, I’m drinking in the text as if I’ve researched the Penal Code every day for fun! Things are becoming clearer. I make more notes in my notepad. I underline words; I come up with a list of things. I’m going through their message again. In the right corner of the page there is a timer that keeps counting down the time. They say I have 48 hours to pay a fine of RON 300 in order to avoid trial. I’m thinking, bitches you can’t fine me under suspicion. I’m innocent until proven otherwise! I put it down on my list. But I keep reading. They give no account where to pay the fine. They say I need to go to PayPal or PayPoint or the Romanian Postal Service, pay the money and get a code that I then have to insert in this little box under the timer. They say it’s money they collect to further fight cyber crime and that I’m giving the money to the state. To the State! Mother****, do you know how much money I already pay the State in taxes and all? I’m just NOT going to give more money to the State just ‘cause you say so! My employer pays taxes for me, as a translator I pay taxes for myself, but I don’t remember having double health insurance, double pension, double everything! So shove it!!! I think that annoyed me the most!

My list is complete.

2 august 2013, 00:35:45 GMT+03:00
Bucharest, Romania
Mela’s place

I look for the Cyber Crime Unit and I quickly locate it in the General Headquarters of the Police. Their website doesn’t look like much. Surely not what I expected for a Cyber Crime Unit. I navigate through the icons and finally find the intimation link. I access it ready to send them a notification over my case. I need to state my name, location, phone number and date of birth and then use the little Message box to send them my complaint. I put down all my data. Then I click on the little calendar where I’m supposed to choose my day, month and year of birth. Yeah. It’s not working. It’s not opening and the page blocks. I try several times and run into the same trouble. So much for the Cyber Crime Unit. Thank God these are the professionals that caught me doing “illegal” stuff! I find their email address on another website, I go to my Gmail and write them an email.

I’m done and I look again over the items in my list.

Good evening,

My name is Melania Radutoiu. My laptop was blocked tonight under the suspicion of illegal distribution and/or usage of author protected content (the list is very long, including pornography, zoophilia materials etc)

In my defense I’d like to say this is not a case of illegal distribution, download of any sort nor the violation of any copyrights. The websites I have accessed were in reference to my Google search on cannibalism and zoophilia, but did not imply any downloading, sharing and were free of any sort of charges as all information was public to be viewed online. Therefore, I fail to see how I could be under the suspicion of all charges mentioned above.

More so, the message states that even though I’m only under suspicion (considering some of these websites opened automatically without me being able to control it, consequently I could’ve accessed something unintentionally) I am asked to pay a fine. Legally, you cannot fine me only under suspicion. I mean, if I turn out to be innocent, will you return my money?

The message continues by saying that even after paying the fine I need to delete of my computer all illegal downloads in seven days after making the payment. If I haven’t downloaded/copied/shared anything, what am I supposed to delete? Simply delete the browser history of my internet? It would be important to mention how this procedure goes considering I have a criminal case hanging above my head, otherwise. But nothing is mentioned in this sense.

One other item that I consider strange is that the timer you have set up stops when I turn off my computer. Although I would like to think the Romanian Police is kind enough to wait for me and give me more time than 48 hours to pay the fine, I tend to believe that doesn’t really happen in reality. Also, I would’ve liked to see a Treasury Account where the fine goes and contact details of an office where I could discuss with someone about this situation. From a legal point of view, I have the right to defend myself and you’re not giving me that chance. Please let me know where I can come and discuss this issue.

Lastly, I would like to mention that accessing such websites was for research purposes and to that effect I have the necessary proof. I will pay the fine only if I am proven that I have indeed done something illegal and afterwards, I would like to be told how to clean my computer – if need be.

Thank you for your time,
Melania Radutoiu

I click send and hope for the best. I can’t believe now I have an email in my Sent Emails sent to the Cyber Crime Unit of the Romanian Police. That is one place I never thought I’d go to hahaha I spend a little more time trying to calm down and eventually around 2:30AM I fall asleep.

The battle has only begun.

2 august 2013, 08:06:33 GMT+03:00
Bucharest, Romania
Raiffeisen Bank HQ

I’m at work. It’s a busy day and I need to set up my boss for his daily meetings. He takes things slowly, joking, amused to see me there so early. I leave work so late that I hate coming in really early. But today Mela has plans. We figure things out and he’s all prepared to take Friday by the horns and be done with this week. “Jim, I gotta go. I’ll be back in about an hour and a half. Call me if anything.” He looks at me and says nothing. It’s the benefit of working together for five years and a half. He can tell when something’s going down and he doesn’t even bother asking me why. He knows I’ll tell him when the time is right. He nods and I leave. My lovely girls (the other assistants) agree to take my calls when I’m out. I grab my precious laptop and leave. My heart is racing again. I did not have breakfast and I’ve only slept for about 3 hours. I don’t care about sleep or food. Life has just given me homework to do and I’m about to A+ this bitch!

So let’s go baby!

2 august 2013, 08:06:33 GMT+03:00
Bucharest, Romania
Police HQ

I’m lucky The Police HQ is actually not that far away. I check my Maps on the IPhone again as I get off the subway. I’m standing right in front of their building. My laptop hangs heavily on my shoulder so I buckle up, bringing it closer. My poor baby, all blocked and suffering!

I cross the street and I’m trying to figure out which one is the entry in this huge rather old looking building. It’s right in the middle of Bucharest, yet there’s only this small, barely visible sign that tells you what this is. There’s no parking lot, no police cars around. In a way, I’m grateful. It takes a little of that feeling that I’m going to the police. I walk alongside the walls and finally reach this shabby looking door with some sort of drawings on it. Looks more like the entrance into a deserted building where you want to block the view inside, but I’m used to the “looks” of Romania so I press down on the handle anyway. It opens and I step inside this small hallway. I big stair case right in front of me, branching sideways and a closed door in the middle; a few chairs on the right at the foot of the stairs. And a policeman on the left, sitting at a desk with an old, quite torn register in front of him. A computer too and one of those corporate looking phones, the ones that you get so sick and tired of, with the numbers erased from the buttons from too much usage and the handle shining from the same. I’m staring at his dark blue socks matching his dark blue pants. I hear voices from somewhere but there is no one else in there other than me, him and one other corpulent guy with a briefcase. He’s waiting for the policeman to find some info for him. So I stand behind this guy, figuring that the policeman could help me with some contacts for my problem.

He makes a few phone calls and instructs the man before me to take a seat and wait because someone will come for him. Will come for him… I don’t like the sound of that. Because someone will come for me too. I feel like I’m in a cheap, less bloody version of “The Saw”. I swallow in holding together to my bag. My laptop is in there and a bunch of stuff I’ve printed from my script work and other research I’ve done so I make these people understand what the heck I was doing looking up zoophilia. And I can only hope that’s enough to prove my innocence.

The guy steps aside but prefers waiting before the staircase, almost blocking the entrance because well, from the looks of it, he thought he’s pretty important and someone will come for him fast. I switch my weight from one leg to another, captivated with this purely Romanian attitude of always do something different than what you’re told, just ‘cause we’re “important people.” The policeman clears his voice, signaling me to approach his desk. Okkkk, here we go!

“Hi!” I need to clear my voice. That came out like some rat squeaking for its life. “Hi.” How the fuck do I tell him? I didn’t expect him to be there. Hi, I’m here ‘cause my laptop was blocked when I was looking up some zoophilia websites. I glance at the big guy checking me out from the corner of his eye and I’m thinking this is not a good approach. I can already feel a grin springing on his fat lips and that lecherous look of “well… what do you know! You wild thing! RAWR!” I’m sick with my stomach. I never skip breakfast, and now this! I breathe in really deeply then turn towards the policeman again. “Yeah, so my laptop was blocked.” I pause. “By you.” Pause again. “Can I talk to someone please.” I make it sound more like a statement than a question. Just in case he thought I was about to leave this place empty handed and give up my chance to a fare trial.

I refuse to look at the other guy again so I keep staring at the policeman. Then I remember I should smile, but, out of the blue I realize where the voices were coming from. There was a small TV set placed right under the big stair case for the policeman to watch in his long hours staying there. I am distracted by the images and the sound for a moment and I miss hearing the policeman addressing me.

“M’aam. M’aam!”

I startle. “Yes!”

“Who blocked you computer?”

I stare. To me it’s all so obvious. “You did.” And then I get it. This is Police HQ, there are different departments in the building so I need to be more specific. I open my mouth and then I realize I can’t remember exactly the pretentious name of the cyber crime department. But I have it all written down in my IPhone Notes. I pull it up and state the name clearly, too loud actually for my own comfort.  He smiles. Damn it! This is how mocking at Mela starts! I straighten my back ready to face the upcoming wave of kinky glances from the entire police IT department. This is the life of Mela. Period.

He flips pages in the old register and then dials in a number.

“Yeah, Mr. Whatever? This is Lieutenant blah blah blah from the entrance! I have a lady here whose computer is blocked. Yes. By us. Can you send someone in? It’s not you? I see. Where can I call then?”

Oh no! My heart sinks in the pit of my chest. I’m one of the rare cases!!!! They don’t even know whom the fuck to call. This is not good, not good at all. I keep my smile going but I’m breathing like a racing horse. The policeman hangs up then dials another number. Same conversation, only that when he is done he tells me to wait, that someone will come for me. Somehow, if before this had a bad connotation, right now sounds like a good thing.

As I move towards the chairs, someone comes downstairs and I die a little more thinking they’re fast for someone who just got a call. But it wasn’t for me. It was for the big guy and he climbs up the stairs with the face of that someone important. Of course. I sigh as I sit down, pulling the laptop on my knees. I hate waiting. Waiting sucks. Waiting makes me think and gives me enough time to panic further. I try to spend my time observing the little things around; there is not much to look at.

A courier comes in, a tall skinny guy. He puts all the small packages on the little table between us. There is another phone in there. He pushes his sun glasses on top of his head then takes his cell phone out. He is obviously pressed by time; I can see it from how he pouts, unhappy with not finding faster what he is looking for. Eventually he grabs the landline and dials in. He introduces himself then tells the person he’s downstairs and they can come pick up the package. Then he places a second call. Now the both of us are waiting. I try to look impersonal.

His cell rings and he answers it, but a second later he sounds annoyed. I figure the person must’ve told him to wait. He swears in a low voice and starts reading the bar codes on the packages. Finally two ladies come down, one after another, pay him and leave with their stuff. He is gone.

I sigh and glimpse at the police man. He is putting his few things in a drawer and I don’t know what to make of that. The door opens again and two young men come in. The usual 25 to 28 years old, belly beer owners, both in shorts and T-shirts, a slick kind of look, but with a purposeful cool ignorant air. They sit down a chair away from me after giving in their IDs to be let in. The policeman makes a few more calls. Then an older big lady comes in. I don’t like how she’s dressed, it makes no sense to me to combine shorts and a wife beater for someone her age and … weight. She’s got a huge purse, but is wearing beach slippers. A thick gold necklace and oversized earrings ornate the entire outfit. Her hair is a dirty blond but not dirtier than her greasy roots and from the looks of it I can’t tell what she’s doing here. But soon enough I realize she’s the mother of one of these guys.

A conversation breaks among them and spirits become agitated. Police had come to their home with a warrant and they took all their computers, laptops, phones and God knows what other equipment, obviously due to some suspicious activities. They complain about the police being abusive. They turn into some smart asses, making mean jokes and playing it superiorly. Another young man comes down the stairs and I’m thinking, this guy could come search my house free of charge! Hehe He’s with the police. The three intruders get up almost jumping the guy. Three mouths speak way too much for just one policeman to cover. He raises his voice and forces them all down and into their chairs. The string of verbal complaints continues, becoming more violent with each moment. The door opens again and a judge comes in. And I can’t tell ‘cause he’s wearing his robe. It’s unbuttoned adding to his in-a-hurry look. He looks at the three of them, then at the young policeman. He asks if the lawyers are there. The mother replies rather infuriated. The mutiny switches from the policeman to the judge and I can tell the other policeman with the register is observing them on the edge with his hand on the phone. Just in case.

I shift in my chair. These are the real criminals I think. And I’m standing in a queue with them. I feel so innocent, damn it! I glimpse at my laptop sticking out from the bag. But then again I have the damn Interpol on my desktop too! I giggle stupidly. Mela, the cyber crook! I shut my eyes for a minute, hard and long. I don’t know whether to enjoy my life or be mad at it. I open them to stare at nothing and I decide I enjoy it. I know right from wrong and I have done nothing wrong. Not now, at least haha

The argument continues at my right. Eventually a small guy comes in, carrying a black suitcase. He doesn’t look like a lawyer. More like a lawyer wanna be. He manages to appease the situation and everyone moves up the stair case and soon there is silence again. I check my watch. 25 minutes into the waiting and still nothing. I’m trying not to give it too much thought. Another policeman steps out that door on top of the stair case. I don’t like this guy. He looks… tougher. They salute each other and the other guy leaves to have lunch. Now I understand why he was packing his stuff. The new guy checks me out from the top of his glasses making me feel uncomfortable. I look away. When the hell are they coming?

A few more people come and go. The trouble makers from before show up 15 minutes later with their mom leading the hunting party as they come down the stair case. Where is the young policeman, I wonder. He would have soothed my eyes with that six pack he had displayed earlier. I glance at the new policeman again. The one sitting at the entrance. Somehow I feel that if I address him a request he’s gonna ignore it, but I have to. I’ve been sitting here for almost an hour with nothing happening. I’ve gone through the entire range of emotions I could possibly experience. Now I’m just tired of it and want to be done with this entire charade.

I get up and drag my laptop along. He looks at me blankly and I’m annoyed.

“I’m sorry. Your colleague called someone for my problem. About 50 minutes ago and… nothing happened. Could you please check again?” He continues looking at me.

“In relation to what?” Are you kidding me?

“My laptop was blocked and I’d like to know why.”

He thinks for a moment, or I think that’s what he was doing, then he makes a call. “Yah, lieutenant something something from the entrance. I have a lady here with a blocked laptop. Yeah. The 300 thing.”

The 300 thing? What the… Well, that was new!

“He’ll be here in a minute. Please take a seat.” Now why does that sound familiar?

I mumble an ungrateful thank you and I go back to my chair. But indeed, ten minutes later this young man comes in. Not the same young guy as before, unfortunately, but it’ll do for his purpose.

“Hi. Are you the one with the laptop?”

“Yes. Hi.” I look eager to get rid of this problem but in the back of my mind I note that he looks very relaxed for a guy who’s supposed to bring me in, fine me, arrest me or whatever. Cuff me. Kinky! Hahaha (sorry it’s just how my mind functions. Joking is my life saving trick in all situations!).

“So what is this about?”

I’m still suspicious of his relaxed attitude. He’s playing me! I continue to look serious and not fall in his trap. All this good guy crap is not gonna work with me boy! So I begin my theory, the one I’ve learnt by heart the night before. The Penal Code, the articles, the list of items. The policeman at the door is becoming more and more interested in my theory. I see the young policeman opening his mouth to say something, but alas, I’m not going to let you interrupt me Mr. Lieutenant something something!!! Five minutes later I conclude my speech and I give the floor to the Romanian authority. But the guy is mesmerized and silent. I.AM.WAITING! Speak now or forever hold your peace man! I see the policeman at the entry literally staring at me with his glasses falling off his nose. He seems amused. I cannot sense the amusement of the situation, other than two guys staring at me when I’m looking for answers after a sleepless night of stress and a panicky morning.

“So?” I sound polite but impatient.

The young man before me straightens his back, a maneuver I see, to help him from grinning. He swallows in the same ridiculous attempt to keep from smiling.

“It’s a virus.”

And he smiles. I guess he couldn’t take it anymore. My face is priceless. I feel defeated. I whisper a what… and I sound like dead people trying to reach the living from the other side.

“It’s a virus. It’s  not us.” I continue to stare. This guy is unbelievable!

“You mean you won’t even look at my laptop to see what’s wrong?”

“No need.” I am totally 100% baffled and cannot compose myself. I just went through one of my most/major/terrifying scares in my entire life and this guy is fucking with me!

The other policeman stands up and comes to me and has to make an effort to get my disabled attention.

“Did you pay the money?” Now that got me back in the grid of the rational people so I react immediately.

“Do I look like someone who’d pay you any money?!” I quickly evaluate the situation and I conclude that wasn’t a very healthy approach. But too late for that; plus the guy didn’t even notice the slip. “No, I didn’t. It didn’t seem right. By the way, I sent you an email complaining about this. Disregard it.”

The young IT guy laughs shortly. But I still can’t laugh about it.

“There’s a network of smart guys that have planted this virus on the internet. It’s very hard to track as it always changes places and considering how vast the internet is, it’s next to impossible to locate it.”

“Then why don’t you locate them?”

“We’re working on it.” I’m sure. Your friggin’ website it’s not working, people! “The virus is connected to videos, or something on the internet that keeps loading (Lights ON!!!) and it usually relates to searches on the internet for pedophilia, zoophillia, porn and so on and so forth.”

Ah, yes, just that part of the conversation that I wanted to get to! I know I blushed. My tough-rough bitchy attitude can only help this much.

“You know I was doing this for research.” And I feel guilt landing on my head like a huge Bronze Age carnivorous bird eating on my brain. But I raise my chin. Researching zoophilia for writing purposes is not wrong! But I don’t sound convinced, not even in my head and it’s all because of people’s attitude towards the subject. By default you must be a pervert to do something like this. Well, hell with what people think! I still sleep peacefully at night!

My face translates my rage and the guy thinks it’s him so he tries to calm me down.

“It’s alright! You don’t have to look specifically for porn or anything like that. Any research implying a word connected to such topics can get you in trouble. Not everyone coming in here is a pervert!” And for once he smiled in a comforting way where I didn’t feel like I’m the odd thing in the room.

The other policeman slips back into the conversation and says reassuringly.

“Well, congratulations.” I wonder. “For not paying the money first of all. You can’t imagine how many people have paid the money out of fear of being convicted or being dragged to court. So, well done for coming here!”

Aaaaahhhhhh!!! I can’t believe it! I left home in the worst state possible, with this cloud thundering above my head, thinking I’d be in arrest by midday and here I am with this guy congratulating me for being the “illegal” good citizen fighting for her rights!

“But, you have to tell me, what made you so suspicious about the message. A lot of people panic and they just don’t care about the details anymore.”

So I summarized my list of arguments and he seemed very satisfied with my findings. The IT guy pointed out a few more technical details that I hadn’t spotted and all of a sudden the discussion became quite interesting, even for me.

“So what now?”

“Well, you got to give it to someone to get rid of the virus. Tell them to look for it in the C partition on the hard disk. From there it blocks Windows so you can’t access it anymore. Tell them to make sure to delete it completely otherwise it will grow back.” I laugh at the comparison. “Like weed.”

Ok, maybe I like these guys.

“I’ll make sure to uproot the evil from my laptop.” Now I am relieved and shamed to have wasted so much of their time with my court presentation of the case. I apologize for it.

“No, no, it was quite something. Few people read that text. I don’t think I’ve met one yet to read the Penal Code on top of that! It’s good to see someone showing interest in their situation this way.”

Ok, now I’m blushing again. I nod and smile, like the idiot that I am.

“Ok, thanks.”

“No problem. Be careful next time.”

Shit! Haha.

I leave and I feel I’ve left a hurricane behind me. I am hungry again. I still have the Interpol on my desktop but I don’t care anymore. I am extremely lucky because one of my IT colleagues from work helps me with getting read of the “weed”. He makes fun of me for at least a week afterwards, but he’s forgiven ‘cause he’s a cutie.

Two days later I tell David the whole story and he finds it riveting. Well, I guess, that’s a way to describe it. It was refreshing for me, that’s for sure. So he suggested I turn this into a short film, which I will. But nothing compares to a good story, so here it is.

Meanwhile, a few days later, I realize the virus had not been completed deleted and it had erased my user replacing it with a temporary one. I lost all my C files including my Final Draft software that I use to write scripts. I cried. I was so upset. Another intervention from my awesome IT colleagues who kept my poor baby laptop in ER for a few days and the virus is finally deleted. I recover part of my stuff. I get back the kit for Final Draft and with the help of my dear Adinut, I manage to put in the registration code and make it work again. I am safe. My laptop is safe. But there is a scar left and I now have 1002.35 anti-viruses on the computer. I am also getting an external hard drive to save everything on it.

The conclusion: we’re never safe from viruses. The internet world is a bottomless ocean and we are far from being the free divers we think we are. There is not enough oxygen for us to reach that deep and understand just how bad things can become and only a few really good professionals can save you.

Have I learnt my lesson? Of course! Will I continue my research? I have to! I still can’t think zoophile! J

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