There is no hiding the fact that I have had my fair share of run-ins with the forum, or more precisely, its admin. No love lost there, but then walking away from the site and not looking back has been one of the best things I have done for my mental health in years. For others, stepping away while their name is being defamed has been a little harder.
Recently a local lady, who I must say does a heck of a lot for the community in her own right, took matters into her own hands.
Having had running battles with the admin for a couple of years now, with back and forth of comments on social media about each others behaviour, things reached a head. The admin of the forum has a habit of making up fake or sock-puppet accounts in order to troll, attack, and stalk people who have blocked him from seeing their accounts on his other 20 or so Twitter accounts etc.
This blog actually got some attention from him a little while ago. Comments made on a couple of entries by "Mateo C" and "Dennis" were indeed without a doubt his work. Strangely, once called out on it, outed on social media, it stopped. Albeit after a little denial and mocking by him.
Comments like this are really appreciated, especially when struggling mentally, and knowing the person posting them knows full well the damage they are doing.
"We are go" sounded pretty exciting... until I read further and discovered another self-obsessed, cringeworthy and boring post.
Where do you find all this time to write such mundane and repetitive noise, for the benefit of your eleven followers?
And there's so much pent-up spite and bitterness in everything you write about your area. If you hate the people around you, why not do them a favour and move on to somewhere that has the drab food and drink chains you crave. Basically, any low-rent, undesirable town, anywhere in the country would offer everything you need from life (or so it seems from reading your crappy monologues)
Mateo C abuse
So as you can see, there are no lengths the man will not go to, to cause hurt and upset, and in some cases, going further to try and damage peoples names. Mentioning you in tweets about things he doesn't like, telling others to contact you to air their anger or disappointment at something as mundane as a Costa Coffee opening locally. Yup, really! Using the social media accounts of the forum to reach a wider audience, to make sure at least some upset parties read it and get in touch, even if he can't because he is blocked.
Belittling efforts made to be healthier and fitter, suggesting you are overweight and its funny to see you try and do something about it.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg of my experiences.
One person, dozens of stories of mistreatment, mis-use of the forum, it's social media accounts and its following. All for personal satisfaction, and maintaining a little control over things.
So in the latest episode, the admin started up another twitter account, with the intent of getting accepted as a follower, in order to read the tweets on the local ladies account. Not just Dave1947 or something, no no that would be too simple. Instead making up a fake West Indian Bakery, calling it Flava Baker. Complete with images of patties, a bio, use of Patios, following other similar businesses, and following the local forum. Then for authenticity, having a conversation with themselves between the admin account and the Flava Baker account, and putting a post on the forum welcoming the business to the area. Those are some extraordinary lengths to go to, to simply get to see the tweets of someone who doesn't want you reading them. Private means private. Unless you mean private messages on a forum, but that is another matter!
Wise to this behaviour, the local lady became suspicious of the new follower, and started asking questions. These were mainly about the accounts claim that there was a dispute between the business owner and the webmaster. Another elaborate storyline to draw people into believing it was a real thing. After a bit of back and forth, she was now convinced that is was the admin of the local forum, so in a strange, powerful, and rather far reaching move, she collated a load of information about the forum admin, and sent it in an email to the email address of Flava Baker, confident it was actually the forum admin. Keeping up?? Phew!
This email contained a collection of pieces of information and pictures taken from the admins very open and public social media accounts. Nothing found by means of deception or stalking (as has been suggested). The way it was put together was a little questionable, and for the brief moment it was made public, some felt it was very threatening, although no threats were made in the email.
Now I mention it being made public, this is the strange part. Up until this point, information had been taken from a public internet space, collated and sent to one individual, believed to be the owner of the information, which it indeed turned out to be. It contained no identifying information, first names at best, and no mention of the forum admin
In a very strange move, the admin took the email, pretended that Flava Baker had forwarded it to him, and then posted it publicly on the most open part of the forum. Along with a very damaging statement about the local lady, complete with full names, and a lot of accusatory language. Interestingly, the claim that it had been sent to him by Flava Baker didn't add up. How had they worked out who to sent it to?
After the outrage started on the forum, the victim status now well established, the lies continued. Going on to say that Flava Baker had reached out to him with the information, and allowed him access to their email and social media in order for him to put together a complaint if needed. Many of the posts on the forum suggested he go to the police with the information. However in what appeared to be an act of compassion, and one that was spelled out very clearly for maximum effect, he stated he didn't want to hurt her or her family by filing a report.
Very quickly it became talk of social media, as well as questions being asked on the forum thread itself. Until one local well respected gent called the admin out on the story, and picked a few holes in it publicly.
From this point on, the lies to cover the lies really got going.
In an unexpected act of honesty, the forum admin posted a tell all statement, admitting he was indeed the owner of the Flava Baker account, and had used the account to try and get access to the private tweets of the local lady. Stating that it was to defend himself again the hurt and defamation he believed she was posting. Initially this was welcomed, and he was wooed with compliments for his openness and honesty, and how terrible it must be to "live in fear" of such a person. However that didn't last for long.
Questions about his honesty and integrity soon started to appear. So in a regular move, a mod moved in and stated the thread would be closed as it had served its purpose. Again, this was met with resistance, and people demanded it stay public and open. To prove their point, mods posted a poll asking what they should do with the thread. Within hours the votes were not going their way, so it was moved to another part of the forum, which while visible, allowed far less people to interact with the thread and the poll. 24 hours later and a vast percentage had voted to keep the thread open and visible to all.
Shortly thereafter, it was announced that a police investigation had been launched, so the thread needed to be locked, and moved from public view, so not to influence or interfere with the "ongoing inquiry". Convenient?
Meanwhile on a neighbouring community forum all hell was breaking loose, and people were free to express their thoughts on the man and the matter, without being moderated, or told off for doing so.
That thread is here.... Open and free discussion
Statements were posted on the local forum asking for people to stop discussing the matter, and not to mention it again on the forum, all for the sake of the police investigation.
Now it is worth noting that when asked for proof of this investigation, namely in the form of a Crime Reference Number, everyone from the forum declined to provide one, simply stating that they had seen it, and were satisfied that it was genuine. When asked to name the people named on it, and confirm that the local lady who had sent the email, and was therefore involved in the thread which had been moved to protect the investigation, was the subject of the police report. Again, this request was denied, and a statement saying, no names would be given, was made.
Now anyone who watches CrimeWatch, the local news, reads the local papers, or follows Police on Twitter, will know a Crime Reference Number is a simple code which can be used by people to offer information to ongoing investigations. It identifies no-one, mentions no names, indicates nothing about a crime, and only means something to anyone directly involved. If you approached the Police with the number and had no relation to the case, you would be left none the wiser. However in this case it is a crucial and secret piece of information. Or is it.
My theory is that while this CRN may or may not exist at all, the speculation about it is being used by the admin to continue his abusive control over the local lady. Much as he was happy to make deeply hurtful comments to me while I was low, he feels this is his the only thing he has left to try and maintain some control over her. Occasionally mentioning it when the opportunity to gather some pity and support presents itself, like recently on Twitter.
The above was posted recently, strangely, discussing matters which are apparently not to be mentioned in public as they are part of an ongoing investigation, so some would have you believe.
Up until now, the entire moderation team of the forum have stood behind his statements of desperation driving him to use the Flava Baker account, and that this is the only time he has used sock-puppet accounts to attack someone like this. Dozens of other people would say otherwise. The same group of people who are slowly coming together, sharing stories of how they have feared repercussions for speaking out or against the admin and his ways. Sadly, it is all very convincing from his side of things, or at least in the very controlled way information is allowed to be exchanged. In favour, all is well, speak up. Against or questioning, shut your filthy mouth!
As the weeks go on, the appetite for the topic is fading, but the questions remain. Still unwilling to part with the CRN, even though a number of parties have made inquiries with a number of police forces, and come up with nothing after extensive checks against many parameters. However the appetite for speaking out against this treatment is growing, fast!
From all this we can see that the admin is of questionable integrity, happy to hurt people for his own personal gain. So much so that he has apparently decided not to moderate the forum any longer. However keeps being seen active on the forum. A couple of previously low profile accounts have suddenly assumed a very high profile presence, and almost become a moderator in their own right, strangely using very similar language, and having very similar tells to the admin himself. Strange!
What will become of all this, what will happen next, well that is anyones guess. But one thing is for sure. In the process of all this, the interest and trust in the local forum has been damaged, and if the apparent love for the local forum is really what drives the admin, he will do something to let things recover. Step away? People fear this is not possible from a technical standpoint. But how can trust return with someone lacking in integrity at the helm?
As I say, we will all have to wait and see, but all I can take away from this is, the whole thing was caused by himself, dragging mods into the whole situation by asking them to manage the forum in favour of his side of the story. So if anything should become of it, the whole admin and mod team will be in the line of fire for action and inaction.
PS, I should add, the irony value of any sock-puppet account being used to comment on this will be priceless.