Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, August 02, 2014

With Malice Aforethought

"[The perpetrator] was using sophisticated software in order to mask his identity."
"He's adapted, changed, has knowledge, some technical knowledge, and used it for his own benefit and to the detriment of others."
Acting inspector Carl Cartright, RCMP

"What did I do to make them so mad that for twelve years they're going to keep on doing this and expand it to my daughters, my wife, my mom?"
"Today [day of the arrest] is a great day. It's been a quarter of my life. That's crazy."
One of 38 cyberbullying victims

181 cyberbullying charges laid against Ottawa man

An investigation undertaken by both Ottawa police and the RCMP, named Project Winter, to describe crimes that police characterize as "sophisticated" and "cowardly", has now concluded with 181 cyberbullying charges having been brought against 42-year-old Robert Campbell of Ottawa. He was
arrested and charged with those offences that he committed against no fewer than 38 people.

The charges against Mr. Campbell break down into 27 counts of criminal harassment, 69 counts of identity fraud, and 85 counts of defamatory libel against victims residing in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. Eighteen of those victims are from Ottawa. Mr. Campbell, it would seem, found his passion in life embroiled in slandering other people in a manner they could not respond to, and in effect causing all those people irreparable grief in their public and private lives.

Robert Campbell, 42, Ottawa

He is married, his wife appeared in court, a witness to the charges laid against her husband who appeared briefly in court via video. He is alleged to have used Internet anonymity software, a technique that led, through its deliberate and wretchedly secretive manner to an expanded series of criminal charges. The stealth campaign he had embarked upon to visit misery, confusion and the pain of being ostracized on select victims took place over a period of a decade before his identity was finally revealed.

Acting RCMP Inspector Cole Cartright spoke of the unusual nature of the case, its ten-years-long period of execution, the actions involved and the numbers of victims, reflecting the variety and depth of the charges brought against the Internet predator. A man who became extraordinarily skilled at manipulating a wide range of software techniques to serve his criminally harassing agenda.

The investigation was  complex enough and wide-ranging enough to require its expansion and assistance from other police forces; in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, London, England and Michigan, U.S.A. What the investigators were looking at was a mysterious web they were taxed to follow in an effort to discover the links, if any between the 38 targets and their tormentor.

The precise nature of the software was withheld during an interview that Inspector Cartright gave to the media covering the story. But he did issue a warning for online fraud artists who might find inspiration in this case as the details begin to emerge when it comes to court: "We have the technology and the expertise and the ability to seek others globally to bring you to justice."

In this particular case, the accused began in 2002 to send emails to a victim's co-workers 'revealing' that the victim had alcohol issues along with "bizarre sexual fetishes", information of a nature, though untrue, that would isolate the victim from those around him who might believe what they read and hold their co-worker in suspicion thereafter.

A publication ban is in place, so none of the victims can be publicly identified. Letters sent through Canada Post claimed the victim supported the Nazi party, had been banished from Germany after the Second World War and was a pedophile. And then the harassment expanded, capturing members of the victim's family when one of his daughters received a letter claiming her parents to be racist and and she herself to be 'ugly'.

Fake online profiles were created in the name of several of the victims, the profiles reflecting that the victims were exotic dancers, another the president of Ottawa's Gay Teens United, another the senior co-ordinator of Nazi Youth of Canada. Co-workers of victims were also mailed suspicions of their mental health, or that someone's wife had procured an abortion.  Fake email accounts were established in the names of victims, inviting people at random to sex parties.

Letters were sent to unknown addresses accusing one of the victims of making and distributing child pornography. One target was an employee of the Ottawa  Carleton District School Board whose co-workers were emailed information purporting to be related to the woman's husband's poor parenting skills, and details about the couple's marital problems.

RCMP, added Acting Inspector Cartright, during the investigation developed new investigative techniques from the necessity of bringing this particular case to a conclusion. And they are more than prepared to use those new investigative techniques to bring to justice any other perpetrators of these vexingly nasty cybercrimes

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