Ps. DO NOT MISS THE POST UPDATE AT THE END!!! Updated today, 7pm. You'll shit bricks, just like I did!!! OMG!
Ok now back to the original post first -
My encounter with the Police (Cyber Crime cell)
Or… a comedy of errors.
Or… two wrongs DO make a right.
This morning I received a mail that made me sit up and almost choke on my coffee. It has been almost two years since somebody posted vulgar expletive material about somebody on a blog, and I was a part of that investigation.
Being an admin of misual.com, I am no stranger to receiving phone calls from our Mizoram Police (cyber crime cell), usually because somebody took an offense to a comment made by one of our forum members and filed a complaint. We try to moderate such comments and the police are well aware of the difficulty we face in managing the non-profit website as we all have our respective occupations too. But my encounter with the cops that day was different.
So this morning I received this mail –
Yes, somebody sending a foursquare invitation at 4 in the morning may be a bit odd, but I was more focused on the name - Sangg sangi. There’s a double g in the name probably to stylize it (like snopp dogg) or maybe because “Sangsangi” was already taken. But the very name “Sangsangi” brought back memories of those police investigation days.
As most of you may not know, apart from managing misual.com, I have also taken up the responsibility of collecting all the weekly blog updates of Mizo bloggers and promoting the links at misual.com and Facebook. I do this so that more people can read their blogs, hence encouraging them to keep blogging.
Currently, I am subscribed to more than 500 Mizo blog feeds, but the job of updating the links of new blog posts every week is not that difficult because at least 70% of these bloggers are inactive now.
So imagine my surprise last year (30th July 2011 to be precise) when I was reading and collecting all the new blog updates of that week and suddenly there was this update from a Mizo blogger who had been inactive for more than a year! The owner of that blog was Sangsangi. I clicked on her new post excitedly, only to find extremely vulgar material posted on her latest update!
Here is a brief extract from that blog post which is still visible on my Google Reader as of today even though the blog had been taken down…
“Hey guys of all races, I Zothansangi Khawlhring (Sangsangi) warmly welcome your ***** inside my…” (I cannot quote the rest of the extremely profane and despicable post for the obvious reason, and out of respect for Pi Sangsangi and family.)
My immediate reaction then was that her blog account had been hacked!
And so I posted at misual.com immediately, directing people to the “hacked” blog and asking people if anybody knew her and whether they could inform her that her blog had been hacked. The news spread like wildfire and Facebook Mizo groups were abuzz over this scandal. And finally, the person (victim) concerned was identified and alerted, and she filed a police complaint immediately.
She got my phone number from a common friend and called me up. Now here’s the TWIST. She had never blogged in her entire life before! In fact she’s a teacher at St. Pauls, one of the most reputed schools in Mizoram, and no way could she have written those earlier posts which were written casually in slang. Hence, all those posts I was following for many years on that particular blog – sangsangi.blogspot.com, written by a certain Sangsangi, were apparently not written by this teacher! Crazy… So now, from a case of hacking, it looked more like a complete identity theft.
From the police side, Pu Vanlalfaka (Additional SP) called me up regularly, and I explained everything from my blog expertise point of view and even submitted all the earlier feeds of that particular blog to the police. They too contacted Google and other agencies.
Apart from that, I mailed a few close friends of mine, and we started analyzing her old blog posts from my Google Reader archive, tracing her location based on the people and places she mentioned in her earlier posts, her emotional breakdowns, we even logged into Orkut (after yearssss) only because some of the people she mentioned in her post were apparently on Orkut. Then we started looking for certain Orkut profiles on their friend lists who have the same names mentioned in her posts, and my contacts in Delhi actually went to the said locality in Delhi to inquire if such a girl still lived in that area. Oh the extent we went to, we armchair detectives. :D
Maybe we’ve watched too many Criminal Minds episodes, but we started profiling this UNSUB (unknown subject, as they are called in the TV series), and came to wild conclusions like he or she probably had an abusive childhood and being rejected by friends in school was probably the trigger that brought out repressed emotions and turned this person into a sociopath and hence vehemently attacked his/her teacher Pi Sangsangi etc. Ahhh Television shows, the things it make us think! And of course I was careful because Criminal Minds also taught me that UNSUBs try to inject themselves into an ongoing investigation so as to know what progress the cops have made so far! Hence I didn’t want Mizoram Police to suspect me if I happened to sound too interested in the case, especially since I was the one who discovered the blog, lolz.
One of our suggestions to the Mizoram Police was that, after going through the old Sangsangi posts and the new abusive ones, we have noticed a vast dissimilarity in the language and tone used. Hence could it be possible that there was indeed an actual blogger called Sangsangi, who created this blog and then deleted it, and then this other person created the new blog with the same name coincidentally, which was the only logical reason because if you look at my Google Reader right now, both the old posts and the new ones still point to the same blog permalink address.
However, Pu Vanlafaka called me up to tell me that they asked Google office that question and Google told them it was not possible because once a blog has been deleted, the particular blog name is not available again for new blog registrations.
And this is quite true because one of my blog friends, Vered Puii, deleted her blog, and if you visit her blog now - blogs1870.blogspot.in you will get the message -
Blog has been removed
Sorry, the blog at blogs1870.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.
Still not convinced, I called up my dear friend Jerusha who was working at Google (Hyderabad office) then, and she personally went to the head of whichever department handled this kinda stuff, and later told me the same thing, that when a blog is deleted, the name is locked and is not made available again for registration.
The madness continued and so we amateur investigators finally gave up.
But Mizoram Police didn’t.
On January 12th 2012, I received a phone call from Pu Vanlalfaka, informing me that they had finally caught the person! He was apparently an old student of Pi Sangsangi, who probably had a crush on her or something. They traced his IP address and from various ISPs and other sources, they got more than 300 pages of data and document that finally led the police to him.
Kudos to our Police!
Pi Sangsangi and her husband also called me a few minutes after that, thanking me for “discovering” the offensive blog and for all the attempts I made to trace the person, even though I kept saying I contributed nothing in the investigation. But I was really happy to hear her voice which sounded so genuinely relieved.
And then came the FINAL TWIST.
Pu Vanlalfaka called me up the next day to inform me that the culprit had indeed confessed to writing all those derogatory posts about Pi Sangsangi, but he had NO IDEA about the earlier posts made by the “earlier” Sangsangi on that same blog url. All he did was register the new blog and write those vulgar posts.
As I hung up the phone, I snickered. It had indeed been a long comedy of errors. Yes, no matter what Google says, I’m afraid they screwed up on this. It was by sheer luck that I came across that blog post, just because it happened to belong to a blogger I used to follow many years ago. Google made the mistake of making a url that had been deleted available again, and the perpetrator (unfortunately for him) made the mistake of registering a new blog using that exact same url. Two implausible coincidences. Hence, yes, in this case, two wrongs did indeed make a right. :)
Still don’t believe in my theory that Google’s wrong when they claimed people cannot register new blogs with the names of previously deleted blogs? Visit the (now TWICE) deleted controversial blog sangsangi.blogspot.com. What message do you see?
Blog not found
Sorry, the blog you were looking for does not exist. However, the name sangsangi is available to register!
I rest my case :)
Have a great day y'all.
UPDATE UPDATE!!!! THIS IS FREAKISHLY IRONIC, but the girl who sent me the Foursquare request, Sangg Sangi, the one who made me recollect about the Sangsangi incident and ended up blogging about it this morning, well I’m pretty sure is this same girl I just traced on Facebook just now Sangg Sangi (easy to find because not many girls use the double “g” and yup, it’s a good unique identifier from all the other Sangsangis out there as it is a common Mizo girl’s name).
She’s not on my friend list (I’ve just sent her a friend request), and from her blog listed on her FB profile – mykindofthoughts.blogspot.in I visited it and compared some of her old posts with the posts of the controversial SangSangi blog on my Google Reader (the earlier normal posts, not the abusive ones), and THEY INFACT ARE THE SAME PERSON!!!! :)
I wish I could let Pu Vanlalfaka, Jerusha, Fonz, Amos and all the others know about this as it baffled us for sooooo long. Stupid Google screwing up! Lolz, so she IS the original owner of the blog sangsangi.blogspot.in! In fact she is still following that blog on her current blogger profile.
I really hope she accepts my friend request and read about the experience we went through back then. If only we found out earlier that Blogger (Google) screwed up regarding the permalinking url, we would have saved so much time instead of chasing pillars. Anyway, I am so glad I now finally know who the original sangsangi is, and lolz, yeah, this is foooking amazing, that I was indeed blogging about the very same person earlier this morning!!!! Faaaaak!!! :D
UPDATE 2: Yup she is very much the original owner of the first blog sangsangi.blogspot.in. Small freaking world! And she accepted my friend request. Apparently, she was in a hostel in Chennai when this whole incident happened last year and she had no idea what was going on. She just assumed somebody hacked her blog, without knowing somebody actually registered and got the same url and posted derogatory details about the other Sangsangi. And lolz at Tetea’s comment below. Hahaha. OMG, such a tiny world, and such an irony!!! What are the chances of this happening again to me!!!??? :D
So in conclusion, it was by SHEER luck that I discovered the offensive blog posts because the culprit registered it as sangsangi.blogspot.in which I was still subscribed to, and Google made the mistake of making that url name available (which it still is today too), hence he was eventually caught for posting vulgar things about Pi Sangsangi (the teacher) and if the culprit now knows how I happened to discover his posts, he must be face-palming himself in prison right now, lolz. And again it was by sheer coincidence that I was reminded of this incident by a person today, who in fact turned out to be the very person we were looking for all this time, the original owner of the blog sangsangi.blogspot.in!!! HAH!!!! Whatayyy day!!!!