Diary of a Hack: Days Five & Six

"Your situation is excruciatingly common."

And,  the Secret Service agent continued, the trend is worsening among businesses like yours.

 Why, I wanted to know.

Simple. Big companies tend to be well-defended. So foreign hackers are focusing instead on the thousands of small- to mid-sized firms that populate the American business landscape. Auto dealerships, independent restaurants, storefront retailers, small-fry marketing firms...they're all being targeted as never before.

Listening hard and taking notes furiously, I decided that I liked his voice. It was just about perfect for someone in law enforcement: calm, definite, matter-of-fact, authoritative. A little like Joe Friday's voice, but with energy and personality behind it.  The kind of voice that manages to be both comforting and slightly intimidating. 

The voice went on. Had the hackers defrauded me of any money? And if so, how much?

 They haven't stolen money, I told him. Not from me anyway. Just my good name. And my ability to sleep at night.

 Yes, of course, there's that, he agreed.

I imagined him giving a shrug.

But the fact is, he explained with weary patience, American law enforcement cannot prosecute attempts to defraud. Even in cases of domestic hacking, it generally takes a "spectacularly large scale" criminal success to trigger a formal investigation--sometimes as little as $50,000 but, more typically, $500,000 or more.

 I gulped. He laughed. "More than Fitzgerald Communications of Ann Arbor, Michigan is likely to lose," he said.

Then, he went on, there's the problem of jurisdiction. Hackers in Russia and China are beyond law enforcement's reach. Their governments are completely uninterested in investigating, let alone prosecuting, their activities.

And, who knows, I thought to myself, some of those governments may even be quietly applauding cyber attacks on American interests.

But there is good news here, he said. 

 I waited.

"First of all, you've done everything right. And you seem to be more savvy than most small business owners who go through something like this." The one thing I'd overlooked: filing a formal report with the Ann Arbor PD. Get yourself over there in person, he said, with every shred of documentation you have.

I'll do it on Monday, I promised. Any more good news?

"Yeah. If you keep frustrating them, if it's clear their scam isn't working, they'll give up pretty quickly."

You mean they'll give up on me. And move on to the next mark.

"That's right. They'll find someone else."

I'd say that qualifies as cold comfort.



For more information about Mantra for Murder
Phone: 734/761-8440 • Email: lindafitz@mantraformurder.com