Identity theft attempt, or a crazy?

· by Steve · Read in about 5 min · (940 Words)

Wow, I had a really interesting mail today. Here’s how it starts:

Subject: PLEASE READ this is not an advertisement or a joke!

Ok, that alone earned you a few points on my spam filter’s scoring system. But, then it gets more interesting:

Dear Steve, AKA sinbad, My name is [omitted in case name was stolen from elsewhere]. That name is actually an alias (mine I mean). I must use thise alias because of what I am about to tell you. Recently someone broke into my computer and the authorities in my town will do nothing to combat the person inside of my computer. I no longer have the internet connected to my computer. I fear that the malicious infididual who broke into my computer may be reading these words as I am writing them. Anyway, I had a large amount of word files on my computer that I have written over the years. I included some of my ideas in them. Some of these ideas are very valuable to me. It is my fear that the maclicious person that broke into my computer is not actively selling, developing, and taking my intellectual property. Already I have found at least two of my ideas on I know for a ton of reasons and evidence of my own witnessing that there was a person inside of my computer.

The recent web page on the forum of your website:

is one of my ideas that I had have stolen. The specific method used to create that extremely fast light rendering process is mine and always has been.

That topic points to the LiSPSM shadows thread. So, this person is claiming to own the concept of LiSPSM and wants to take action against our forum members to reclaim that IP. Yeah, right. For a start, LiSPSM was not invented by the person making that forum post, it was invented by Michael Wimmer et al - the contributor just implemented it based on his openly published paper. And I know for a fact this is not him mailing me, he’s a very reasonable person (met him at Siggraph last year) 😀Secondly, being openly published with no patent, the technique is fair game anyway and claims of IP, especially from this person, are laughable. Lastly, having exchanged emails with the author of the LiSPSM implementation whilst modifying and integrating it, I know for a fact that he wrote it - anyone who just ripped it off from someone else wouldn’t have understood the details like he did. So this particular claim misses the mark on every single possible count.

The nonsense continues:

A game showcased on that forum not to long ago also used one of my ideas. That game is known as GRaLL. The malicious individual used my ideas to develop that game. Both of these ideas (I am still searching for others that have been stolen and placed out there) are mine and are the sole property of myself. However I live in an area where the police can do nothing to help me, and I believe that the FBI (US federal bureau of investigation) would not help me get my property back. I do not have the money to hire a lawyer, I am not even an adult. Nevertheless the actions of this individual have made my life a living hell.

Kudos again for picking a real and potentially relevant forum topic. No kudos at all for making a totally vacuous argument - any muppet knows that ideas, even if they are yours (which I highly doubt) are not protected unless you take out a patent. Sounding like a conspiracy nut doesn’t help the argument either. Hey, even if you really did have a great idea, then you should have damn well implemented it first. If someone else did, tough luck. Hacking to obtain information is of course illegal, but I’ve never heard of anyone hacking to get hold of a game idea. Game ideas are literally two a penny, you don’t need to hack someone’s machine to get them.

Steve will you please give me your mailing address (Snail mail, postage, all that stuff) so that I may write to you in a form that I know cannot be intercepted by this individual. The individual that has done this possibly has broke into, as well as many other sites (or perhaps created duplicate sites). It is January 22 2007, and I look forward to your reply.

Ahh, so now we finally get down to the point he’s been trying to get to, via a rather convoluted path. Send you my mailing address eh? Not bloody likely, sonny.

The disturbing thing is that I’m sure this was a hand-crafted, specifically targetted identity theft attempt. It’s possible some of it could have been regex-matched I suppose, but the tallying up of the LiSPSM thread and mentions of ‘lighting and shadowing techniques’ and other small cross-referencing details suggest not - it’s too coherent. They’ve clearly randomly picked things from the forum because the specific things mentioned don’t stack up at all to anyone with an even passing knowledge of the subjects in question - and since I know this area pretty well, it’s not even remotely believable. So a real person is either trying to extract my personal details, or they’re seriously deluded, or they’re just trying to make trouble. The former is obviously the most likely, but it’s quite an elaborate way to try to do it - it’s a little unsettling that someone would go to this trouble. Either way, there’s no way in hell they’re getting an answer.