How to Fail at Internet Trolling

By Jane

I pose a question to you, dear Internet. How stupid would you have to be to write a hand-written anonymous letter to a party to whom you’d already sent hand-written mail?

I’m going with “fairly dense”. Here are two images of a letter received today by one of our swim team’s sponsors, Oyer, Macoviak and Associates, with whom East Coast Swimming has a referral programme. The letter is a print-out of Swimwatch’s last entry. The entire entry was printed out and included in the envelope; here, I’ve replicated only the pages which were written on. Note, the “sender’s address” is that of a public swimming pool and is, of course, fake. The pool had nothing to do with the note.

We immediately had our suspicions as to who was responsible for the note, and luckily, we had an older correspondence from the person with which we could cross-check the penmanship. When placing certain letters next to each other, it became even more apparent that our guess was correct. Forgive the photographed images of the older letter: someone else scanned today’s letter, and our scanner is broken.

I’m not a handwriting analysis expert, but I’m also not legally blind.

First, let’s look at “A”.

There are three tell-tale signs here. The straight line, extending slightly above the curve of the letter to the left is one; however, far more telling are the small flick backwards at the end of the stroke downwards, and the extended cross-stroke.

Let’s now look at an instance of a double “e”.

Again, a distinctive flick to the left, along with an identical overall shape, most certainly suggest that these were written by the same person.

On to the capital “D”.

Because I don’t doubt the eyesight of any of you, it’s unlikely I need to point out the similarities between these characters. However, it’s worth mentioning the defining point about each D: the bottom-heavy nature of the characters appears somewhat like the letter was filled with something–bullshit comes to mind–which was then left to settle.

There were two varieties of “r” in both letters. The second looks quite a lot like a “v”:

It appears even more convincing that the writer is the same person when two different ways of writing the “r” are included in both letter.

Finally, the writer’s rendition of “Seacrest” is remarkably similar in both instances.

Notice the follow-through from the “e” to the “a” in both words, as well as the similar “r”s. Finally, the fact that the stroke through the final “t” extends far further to the right seems like the perfect seal on the fact that today’s weird attempt to interfere with a local swim team’s sponsor and an earlier letter, written to the same team, were penned by the same person. Only the “t” was not the last shred of evidence: both letters were postmarked West Palm Beach, which is not the town in which the team is based.

I wonder if you also licked the envelope when you sealed it, and the stamp when you attached it? Anonymous trolling: you’re doing it wrong.

It’s obviously tempting to “out” the writer. If we were to print the full image of the older letter, the person’s identity would certainly be clear. But is it really worth it? The second rule of the Internet is not to feed the trolls, after all, and I think this applies, even though the correspondence was largely offline. Since it’s apparent that the person responsible reads this website with some regularity, I’m sure she’ll see this. And she’ll know that she failed.

  • It seems the fake author was right about herself anyway – things are not what they seem.

  • The only thing the anonymous auther was right about was the description of herself – things are not what they seem. The ultimate deception is unsigned mail.