Please Help Me
July 5, 2010 6:50 PM   Subscribe

Do hackers go into people's Skype accounts and break up with the account owner's SO? Also, if there's anyone in Melbourne, Australia, preferably Carnegie, who could give me some help, I could definitely use it.

I've been doing the long distance thing with my girlfriend for the past 3 months. She's in Australia; I'm in Canada. We met and started dating in Korea. We have plans to get together again in Vancouver next month. I haven't talked with her for about a week because her laptop has been failing and Skype was our main means of communication.

Today she logged in to Skype and told me she was seeing someone else, and that she didn't want to talk to me about it any further. She refused to answer my (voice) calls on Skype. She logged out of Skype and apparently deleted her Facebook account.

This is not like her at all, and I'm going crazy.

Relevant backstory: someone tried to hack my girlfriend's Facebook about a month ago. She deleted her profile picture and closed her privacy settings in response. Someone also stalked her online, even sent her death threats via email around the same time.

I'm worried.
posted by smorange to Computers & Internet (61 answers total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
If someone has been stalking her, and knows about you, it's possible that this person logged into her account and dumped you on it. It's also possible that she has decided to break up with you. Is there a mutual friend or something you can get in contact with and ask them to make sure she's ok?
posted by brainmouse at 6:52 PM on July 5, 2010

Response by poster: Our mutual friends are all in Korea, or the US. I've been trying to contact her Korean friends, but they're most likely at work right now (which is where my girlfriend should be, too).
posted by smorange at 6:55 PM on July 5, 2010

Response by poster: And, yeah, the guy who was stalking her knows about me. He had quite a lot of knowledge about me.
posted by smorange at 6:56 PM on July 5, 2010

On skype it is trivial to change your username to the username of someone else. Someone could be doing that.

I work with 2 people who have had their facebook accounts compromised. They still don't know where they logged in or whatever to get the password.

Many people use the same password on facebook and skype. If you GF did this and someone got one they could get the others.

Keyloggers are not too hard to install. Had someone who didn't like you but did like her install one on her laptop this could have happened. If she uses other people's computers or uses computers in a net cafe it could also happen.
posted by sien at 7:05 PM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Call the cops in her town, explain the situation, and ask if they'll check on her.

They won't get back to you, of course, but it's a good way to make sure she's safe.
posted by kavasa at 7:06 PM on July 5, 2010

Sorry if I'm being glaringly obvious, but does she not have a cell phone you can SMS or call or a work number/e-mail addy? Surely Skype and Facebook aren't your only avenues for communication, right?
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:11 PM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't you have her phone number? Couldn't you call her directly?
posted by special-k at 7:12 PM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm trying to call. No answer. Texts don't always get through. She's teaching there, though, and she could be in class.
posted by smorange at 7:14 PM on July 5, 2010

Can you call the school she's teaching at and ask if she's in today? You don't necessarily need to talk to her, just make sure she's there?
posted by brainmouse at 7:16 PM on July 5, 2010

Response by poster: I don't know the number, or even the name. It's a private English academy, run by a Korean manager, for Korean students.
posted by smorange at 7:17 PM on July 5, 2010

I'm sure you probably weren't thinking logically and calmly at the time (I wouldn't be), but look back at the Skype logs. Was the person speaking using her particular style of writing/typing? i.e. does she normally not capitalize and these messages were meticulously capitalized and punctuated, or were they using words she might not normally use, or something like that? That might help you figure out if it was her or someone trying to use her account.
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:18 PM on July 5, 2010

Response by poster: She appears to have deleted her Skype account, which is very weird. That's what she used to talk to her Korean friends and her mom (also in Korea).
posted by smorange at 7:19 PM on July 5, 2010

Response by poster: racheaelfaith, I thought of that too. The messages were very short.
posted by smorange at 7:20 PM on July 5, 2010

Response by poster: The break up messages, I mean.
posted by smorange at 7:21 PM on July 5, 2010

I left my FB logged in on a public computer and my SO broke up with me. (Obvs not really.) Don't freak out until she's done teaching.
posted by k8t at 7:33 PM on July 5, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks. I'm still freaking out, but a bit less now. Thanks to a MeFite, I called the police and asked them to see if she's okay.
posted by smorange at 7:37 PM on July 5, 2010

Response by poster: Update: The police in Carnegie haven't been able to contact her yet. There's still no answer on her phone. I sent her a text; hopefully she got it. I'm also trying to contact her best friend in Korea, who should be finishing up work soon. I'm hoping she'll know something. I also apparently have a friend of a friend in Melbourne who should be able to help if the police don't. There's not much else I can do at this point but wait.
posted by smorange at 10:52 PM on July 5, 2010

Smorange- My wife & I live in Korea just outside Seoul. If you need someone here to run a quick errand or something, send me a PM.

Is your girlfriend Korean?
posted by GilloD at 10:56 PM on July 5, 2010

Response by poster: Yeah, she's Korean, originally from Daegu. She speaks English fluently, and I can speak Korean, so I think I'm okay on that front. But thanks, GilloD.
posted by smorange at 10:58 PM on July 5, 2010

Just want to point out that private colleges often follow the same holiday schedule as other tertiary institutions here so she could very well be on a mid-year break at the moment.

And I hate to raise the issue, but are you certain that she's in Australia legally and working here legally? There are a shitload of immigration scams here and people who fear getting caught in them have good reason to suddenly drop out of sight.
posted by Lolie at 11:16 PM on July 5, 2010

Response by poster: She has a working holiday visa; she's definitely in Australia legally. It's from the Aussie embassy and everything.

And we've been together for over 2 years. We talk about getting married a lot. Besides, it's just so out of character for her.
posted by smorange at 11:25 PM on July 5, 2010

Hate to be a killjoy, but perhaps she really did find someone new and wants to move on, and we're just helping you find ways to get in touch with someone who doesn't seem to be making any effort to get in touch with you, or all out just trying to avoid you. Maybe give her some time and space. (Like i said, killjoy)
posted by edman at 11:58 PM on July 5, 2010

Good luck with finding out what's happened. Perhaps Victoria Police will be able to shed some light when they get back you.

Deleting the Facebook seems a bit extreme if she's just found someone else - she could have simply blocked you from it if she didn't want any further contact from you.

Hope you get some answers soon.
posted by Lolie at 12:02 AM on July 6, 2010

Response by poster: edman, I need to know she's okay. I'm not going to give her time or space until I find out at least that much. Would you do any less for someone you loved?
posted by smorange at 12:08 AM on July 6, 2010

I don't understand the rush. You've contacted her friends. Wait for them to get back to you.
posted by devnull at 1:35 AM on July 6, 2010

Response by poster: Well, her friends are all in Korea. She doesn't really know anyone in Australia. And I'm in a very different time zone from both Korea and Melbourne. But, yeah, I should probably go to sleep or something. It's just very hard; I'm too full of worry.
posted by smorange at 1:49 AM on July 6, 2010

Well, her friends are all in Korea. She doesn't really know anyone in Australia.

Unless she's wealthy, it's likely that she's sharing accommodation - working tourists aren't likely to earn enough to rent accommodation on their own in the major cities here - so she'd know at least her flatmates and her workmates. If the police are unable to locate her and are concerned, they'll track down both.

If she really just wants to cut off all contact with you - and if that's what the deleting accounts is about, she'll probably change her phone number too - there's not a whole lot you can do about it except resolve not to hassle her friends and her family.

There's nothing more you - personally - can do tonight. It's out of your hands for the moment, so go get some sleep.
posted by Lolie at 2:12 AM on July 6, 2010

I can't empathise with this specific situation, but when I was doing long distance I had a few similar moments of panic when they were frustratingly out of contact. Something innocent and harmless if you lived together - she lost her phone, it's out of batteries, whatever - can suddenly make life awful for you if it comes at the same time as some other drama (such as this).

I don't have any specific advice for contacting her - other people have made some helpful suggestions - but you should definitely sleep, try to relax, and reflect upon all the wonderful times that make you so sure (even though the paranoid part of you wants to disregard your reasonable side) that she still loves you.

She'll probably call tomorrow to tell you the story of how that stalker freak deleted all her accounts when she was out of town (and had left her phone on the charger at home, can you imagine!). Or that priggish housemate who took a joke too far. Or whatever. Or, indeed, perhaps she has really found someone else, and done something entirely out of character and unreasonable. While that may be possible, it certainly doesn't look like the most likely scenario, and you'll only send yourself into a panic if you dwell on it too much. Get to sleep, get some rest, and think wonderful thoughts about how good it'll be when you see her next month.
posted by twirlypen at 3:24 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

There is no reason to expect that she's in danger. So take a deep breath and remind yourself that the urgency is all about reassuring yourself and not about her safety.

You've sent her an email. You've sent her an SMS. You've left her a voice message. Hopefully the content of all these messages is primarily "Hey. Please call me as soon as you can."

Now wait a little bit. There are two primary possibilities.

1. She broke up with you and is trying to avoid the difficult conversation that will follow.

2. Her accounts were hacked and she is coincidentally incommunicado for some other reason.

If it's number one and you think that the relationship might be salvageable then, as much as you have a right to be angry, it's important that you not act like a crazy person right now, mobilizing the entire Internet and population of Melbourne to track her down and ask "But why?"

If it's number two, then she'll be in touch as soon as she realizes what has happened and/or gets your message. In this case, it's even more important not to act like a crazy person.

You are acting as though she is in imminent danger of being assaulted or abducted when, really, it sounds like you're more worried that she's in imminent danger of not calling you back.
posted by 256 at 6:18 AM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]

So call her *real* voice number, her cellphone, or any other way to hear her voice?
posted by talldean at 6:57 AM on July 6, 2010

I think you are right to be concerned, but I agree that you've done everything you can do at this point. You've sounded the alarm to her friends and the authorities in the area.

I know it's hard, but the only thing you can do now is try to wait and hear back from her.

I hope you're both okay...maybe let us know what happens?
posted by Ouisch at 7:44 AM on July 6, 2010

Response by poster: I appreciate those who told me to get some sleep. I did, and I feel better for it. The biggest reason I'm so worried about this is: just two days ago, she sent me a message over Skype (I was asleep, but my computer was on) that was affectionate and very much like her. Last time we talked, about a week ago, we had a great, long, loving conversation. Now, I've got this. It's such a jarring about-face.

I've tried to call her number and I've got no answer. I sent her a text asking her to let me know she's okay and I've got no response whatsoever. It appears she has cut all online contact with everyone, not just me. I know: it's possible, maybe even probable, that she just wanted to break off all contact with me, and decided this is the best way to do it. On top of that, when she messaged me on Skype, there was the little video camera icon beside her name. She almost never hooks up her video camera to her laptop--and if it was attached, why wouldn't she use it, or at least the microphone? I just can't bring myself to believe that she'd this. It's so cowardly, so not her. I guess, now, I'll wait for morning in Melbourne to call the police again to see if they have any news.
posted by smorange at 7:56 AM on July 6, 2010

Response by poster: On top of that, when she messaged me on Skype, there was the little video camera icon beside her name.

"On top of that..." should be "But..."

I just can't bring myself to believe that she'd this.

Should be "I just can't bring myself to believe that she'd do this."
posted by smorange at 8:00 AM on July 6, 2010

It sounds like your main concern for her safety is due to the previous stalker. How was that resolved? Did you ever find out who that was? Was it someone in the same area that she is in?

In any event, you have alerted the police, so it sounds like it's best to follow-up with them.
posted by Eicats at 8:20 AM on July 6, 2010

Response by poster: Yeah, that's my biggest concern. It wasn't resolved, not really. She said she stopped receiving emails from him after minimizing her visibility online. The stalker had told her that he was originally from the US. She seemed to think that was logical, given his writing style (i.e. he seemed like an English native speaker/writer). But who knows if he was telling the truth; besides, even if he was telling the truth, he didn't say where he was living at the time (i.e. the U.S., Korea, Australia). The whole thing freaked me out, and I urged her to call the police. But she's Korean and in Korea it's depressingly common for attractive women to get stalkers--this wasn't even her first--and the police don't do anything about it anyway. She was embarrassed about the whole thing, and I think she felt that calling the police would have caused her to lose face over it--a powerful thing in Korean culture. So, because of that cultural background, I couldn't convince her to call them.
posted by smorange at 8:45 AM on July 6, 2010

Any chance her laptop and cell phone were in the same carry bag that might have been stolen? And she hasn't thought to visit a payphone or library to let you know? Wild out of the blue guess. No idea if it's feasible.
posted by carlh at 8:46 AM on July 6, 2010

No followup on this?
posted by eas98 at 6:30 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I still haven't managed to contact her. No one who knows her knows what's up, but I'm trying to get contact information for some of her other close friends in Korea. Right now, though, it's like she's disappeared, and either she doesn't want to or isn't able to tell anyone what's going on. When I called them back last night, the police, apparently, had done nothing. I don't know what else to do.
posted by smorange at 12:09 PM on July 7, 2010

There really isn't a great deal that you can do at this point. She's an adult and from the viewpoint of the authorities she hasn't "disappeared" - she has contacted you recently even if you question the legitimacy and content of that contact. She's not a "missing person" from their viewpoint, so they have little legal justification for intruding into her life at this stage. "Disappearing" online by no means indicates that she's done so in real life and gone missing from her home and work without explanation.

You can try sending her snail mail which requires her signature for delivery, but she could refuse to accept delivery or simply not respond.

No matter how much you may feel like you're owed a "better" explanation, you need to realise that you may have already received the only explanation that you're going to get. At this stage, looking to the friends who are around you in real life for support is probably your best course of action.

You mentioned the Asian concept of "face" upthread. If your girlfriend believes that she's behaved "dishonourably" by becoming involved with someone else, then not wishing to discuss her behaviour or have it challenged would be quite likely. It may help you to look at her silence in that context for now.
posted by Lolie at 1:58 PM on July 7, 2010

smorange: i have read this thread a few times and i keep coming back to her mom for some reason. i hope you are in contact with her mom. if something happened to her, like if she disappeared, the school or the roommate would contact her family, right? i don't know what kind of system she's got going for her, so i don't even know if that's feasible or what. but i keep thinking "call her mom!!!". you probably have.

yeah, being invasive is annoying and kind of "crazy", especially if you were actually just dumped unceremoniously over skype. you don't want to alienate her by barraging her world with police reports if indeed she was trying to save face or whatever. but, since you don't really know, and since what she did is, in your opinion and experience, totally out of character, i would keep on trying to find out what happened. stalkers aren't funny. being in a foreign country and suddenly shutting down all contact accounts (skype, facebook) isn't funny. if she did just pull the plug on you like that, i think it's shitty and self-centered, to my american standards (respecting cultural differences, but stillll...). if, however, something deeper is going on, she and her family will be glad that you are in the background trying to find out if she is really okay. in fact, i think that pulling a move like that almost deserves being a little bit invasive or at least persistent. because if it turns out that she is really okay, this is a good lesson for her to not fuck with people like that. you are not her parent, but you are her boyfriend. you care.

also, this is a good time to think about your relationship. look into it like it was a book or a movie. turn the pages. is what she did really out of character? is there anything in you or within the relationship that would make her think that it was not okay to just tell you the truth about breaking up with you? meaning: has she tried to do this before? what happened? devil's advocate talking. sharpen your thought process. there is an answer here!
posted by lakersfan1222 at 9:09 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't think you're being a stalker, I would be worried to death in your shoes. But i do think the best idea is to contact her family and close friends and lay it out for them "This happened, I found it completely out of character and I am horribly scared that something has happened to her. If indeed she has broken up with me I will honor her wishes and not contact her but please let me know that she's not hurt". Someone has to know what is going on and i can't believe they would all conspire to keep it from you.

I think that's the best you can do. If she has broken up with you then that is a shitty way to do it and I'm sorry it happened to you.
posted by fshgrl at 10:28 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: The school would probably assume that she went back to Korea and they'd hire someone new. We're talking about a private language school, run by a Korean, and I have some familiarity with how they operate. She has Korean students she teaches privately, too. I don't know if they'd report her missing or not, but honestly, they're a source of worry for me more than anything. I'm thinking: what if one of them...well, you can fill in the blank. Her housemates, I don't know. They're all Korean, and I would think they'd contact someone, but I have no idea if they're in Australia legally. So, I don't know.

I haven't called her mom yet for reasons that I'd rather not share here, and it's not something I want to do, but it's something I will do, tomorrow, if I don't hear something before then. I think I'll just relay my concerns and ask if she's heard from her daughter. If her mom has heard from her, then I can put my mind at ease and start grieving the loss of the relationship. If her mom hasn't heard from her, then her mom has the power to get the Korean embassy involved and make a big deal out of this.

I still don't know what to think is the most likely scenario. I know her as well as anyone else, except maybe her mother, although even her mother doesn't know her the way I do. Up until now we've had an incredibly good relationship--the best I've ever had. We're compatible; we "get" each other's culture; we rarely fight. The last time we were together, we were in Korea, just after a trip to China together. This was right before I came to Canada and she went to Australia. It was the best time of both of our lives. She told me so, and I just know she wasn't lying. I can't explain why I'm so sure in a way that'll convince people who don't know us, but there's no doubt in my mind. She very nearly cancelled her flight to Australia and came to Canada with me right there, despite all of our carefully-made plans.

If she did dump me the way she did--a few sentences over Skype, no chance to ask questions, totally gone in a few seconds--and is avoiding me, then it is shitty. By any standard. You don't do that anywhere, face-saving or not. If she wrote those messages, the only thing that really makes sense to me is that she did something she's deeply ashamed of and can't bring herself to tell me. That, I would at least understand.
posted by smorange at 10:34 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Please keep us updated! I'm hoping for the best for you, whatever that is.
posted by Laura Macbeth at 10:39 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: And, yeah, I know sometimes people aren't who you think they are, and they do terrible things, and all the rest of it. She could be one of those people, and a very good liar. I know that, in my head. But I can't bring myself to believe that about her until I have something more than a couple sentences on Skype.
posted by smorange at 10:43 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

then don't forget for a second what you believe about her.

obviously we don't know what the issue is between you and her mother. my feeling is that if she's difficult or maybe doesn't approve of you or what have you, you might want to just say that her daughter sent you a strange and abrupt message on skype and now has not returned x amount of messages in x amount of days. keep it simple and don't give up too much of the personal nature of the message. a simple and direct appeal will work the best. this way, you can head off any personal garbage that may come up surrounding you two dating or breaking up.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 7:42 AM on July 8, 2010

Response by poster: The issue isn't so much between me and her mother. It's complicated. Anyway, I've worked out something to tell her mom that's deferential, not overly detailed, but still relays my concerns. I had a Korean friend go over it with me to make sure it's appropriate. I'll try to contact her tonight (Korean time).
posted by smorange at 1:53 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Still no news?
posted by Ouisch at 11:37 AM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I finally heard my girlfriend's voice. Just a "hello" (in Korean) when she answered the phone. She hung up immediately. I can't even work up the will to be angry. Maybe I'm too emotionally exhausted, or maybe because I feel like I don't even know her anymore. I'm just completely amazed. I never imagined she had it in her to be so cruel, least of all to me. But I doubt I'll get a better explanation for what she's done. At least now I know she's okay, and I can sleep knowing that I've done what I can. And I guess now I can try to move on.
posted by smorange at 5:03 PM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thank you for the update, and I'm very sorry.
posted by Ouisch at 5:09 PM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks. I should say that I've received a great deal of support from people here and especially from friends in real life. That support has been the only thing keeping me going. So, I thank everyone who has given it to me. The generosity has meant the world to me.

When I heard her voice, I was shocked, but I was also surprisingly happy. I felt relief that the worst-case scenarios playing out in my head hadn't materialized, and then I felt happy because I was so relieved. That feeling of relief showed me that I really did care for her welfare more than I cared about my relationship with her. I still do. And that makes me feel better about myself, at least. Toward her, more than anything, I just feel bad--that she has become the kind of person who would do this to someone she loved.

Anyway, thank you all.
posted by smorange at 5:31 PM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm so sorry to hear this is how things have turned out, smorange, but I'm glad you have an answer of sorts.
posted by hot soup girl at 6:20 PM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Her best friend very sympathetically confirmed it to me. Apparently she had been worried too, and is as shocked as I am. I'm fairly sure she didn't get any explanation either, although I wouldn't expect her to give it to me, if it meant betraying a confidence.
posted by smorange at 6:29 PM on July 10, 2010

No one deserves to be treated like this. Be good to yourself.
posted by special-k at 6:35 PM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: To paraphrase a post from another thread:

You shared with someone some of the light that you have in your heart; this was a wonderful thing for you to do, and the rest of us in the world are all a little bit better for your having done so. Thank you.

Do it again when you are able.

posted by blueberry at 9:01 PM on July 10, 2010 [6 favorites]

Smorange, you sound like a fantastic guy, and I'm so sorry this happened to you. I don't know what could have possibly caused her to act this way, but I'm guessing she must be in some kind of bad and sad place too to have been able to do this to you. It's really her loss.

Be extra good to yourself, heal up and then get out there and share yourself with the rest of the world again. The right girl is out there and I know you'll find her soon.
posted by marsha56 at 12:27 PM on July 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

Thank you for the update, and while I'm glad she's safe, I'm so sorry this happened to you.
posted by Laura Macbeth at 12:38 AM on July 12, 2010


I'm so sorry that things worked out the way they did; I found myself in a very similar situation almost a decade ago: a long-distance relationship I'd thought was idyllic, a sudden and unexpected disappearance, desperate attempts to locate her and ensure that she was alright, and the sucker-punch realization that, yes, she was "okay" but had just decided to end things and use distance and silence avoid explaining uncomfortable things.

It sucks a lot, and it's hard not to feel foolish (at least, it was for me), but I just wanted to point out the wisdom of Blueberry's comments. You shared something beautiful with someone and even in an emotionally taxing time, you were concerned with them as much as yourself. Don't let yourself become calloused by it, and try (as much as you can) not to beat yourself up over the relative lackof closure. You're a unique and cool person; hell, you rhyme with orange.
posted by verb at 4:14 AM on July 12, 2010

Thanks for the update. I'm glad she's okay, but sorry to hear this happened to you. Be kind to yourself and good luck to you.
posted by wiskunde at 1:53 PM on July 12, 2010

Response by poster: Final update: I wrote her a letter telling her how much she has hurt me, but also telling her that I can't regret our time together. I told her that the person I knew was a special person who I will continue to love in my memory, and I expressed my hope that she can become that person again someday because the world is better with that person in it. I told her that I will forgive her for what she's done. And I said that I won't contact her again.

It doesn't matter much if she reads it, and I don't expect a reply, but writing it was something I needed to do.

I guess that's it, then. Thanks again.
posted by smorange at 2:26 PM on July 12, 2010 [12 favorites]

I am sorry this turned out this way. I read it and I honestly believed, towards the end especially, that things were going to turn out okay.

Either way, you sound like a great guy and it is definitely her loss. Even if I don't know both sides of the story, as a fellow MeFite, I'm in your corner, and if you were in the area, I'd buy you a beer.

Keep on keepin' on buddy!
posted by PaulingL at 5:24 PM on July 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Now that this has bumped back on to my Recent Activity page, I'll say for the record that I did end up with a short reply to my letter. It was cold, unapologetic, and uncaring--that's not my description, but a mutual friend's. To me, it was just bizarre.

I've been taking care of myself, getting lots of exercise, and eating well. I'm still mourning the loss of my best friend and lover; I still have moments of deep sadness about losing her; and I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to trust anyone as I trusted her.

But I know things will be okay in the end.
posted by smorange at 11:24 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

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