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Midnight Death Threats and Kittens With Their Throats Slashed

by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.
Think you’re too sophisticated to be terrorized by anonymous thugs? Just wait until they start leaving baby animal carcasses on your doorstep.
After years of incessant, senseless harassment, I now view my Short-Seller-Hacker-Tormentors as pitiful and childish sociopaths. They may still be able to harm my computers and my finances, but at least they no longer frighten me. Once upon a time, though, they scared me witless.
That’s despite a background which might seem well-suited to on-line investment. I’m an Ivy League-educated Ph.D. and former college teacher. I’ve had a 30-year career as a business journalist and editor. I’ve used computers since there were computers. And I was an investor relations manager and NIRI regional vice president, back in the halcyon days before algorithmic program trading roiled the markets.
No matter. A group of Crazies fixated on me as their Designated Victim. My appeals for help – to the police, to regulators, to the Guardians of the Internet – went unanswered. And soon the situation was out of control.
It all began in 1998, when magazine headlines blared that the Russian Mob had infiltrated Wall Street and when many of the major financial information sites were Wild West-style hotbeds of libel and sadistic bullying. All “Chinese Walls” had seemingly been exploded. There was no apparent distinction among active traders, sober analysts, and blatant con men. Everyone could say and do anything they wanted to anyone they wanted. And if there were any Sheriffs around, they must have been on lunch breaks.
So why did I venture into this Cesspool of Corruption? Then unattached and without children, I was extremely close to my parents. When my mother died suddenly without any forewarning in late 1997, I was emotionally devastated and thought I needed a hiatus from my journalistic career.
And it seemed everyone in my Baby Boomer generation – then aged 33-51, now aged 46-64 – was attempting to earn a little extra money by Internet trading, made suddenly easy by the proliferation of on-line brokerages and the burgeoning of financially-oriented media programming, both in print and on the Web.
I wanted to recover from my family tragedy by working by myself in what I thought would be a relatively stress-free environment. I thought I had an edge on the majority of other new traders, with my strong backgrounds in finance, investor relations, computers, and heavy-duty journalism. If someone who’d been a major magazine business editor and corporate investor relations manager couldn’t do this, who could?
But sometimes, Alas and alack! it is better to have neither knowledge nor talent than to have too much of both.

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Disclosure: None