Experts always warn about opening suspicious emails. That is the whole point of a Spam/Junk folder. It is the designated place for all things you should not click on. You are just supposed to clear it out on occasion. They also say you should not share personal information with strangers over the internet. Those two things are what led me here. Someone decided to break all the rules and in my attempt to find answers, I ended up breaking them too. My name is Maria and this is how I put myself in danger.
It was January 3, 2019, and probably around 11:00 P.M. I had been cramming for my biology exam the next day and was wired on Red Bull. All I wanted to do was take a little break from studying and it led me to r/nosleep. My finger slowly scrolled through the attempts at horror. It was hard to get a rise out of me, so I needed something entertaining. There were endless rows of things that did not catch my eye. That was until I came across, “Help, I answered a Spam email and now they are going to kill me.” The title did not seem scary, but it made me chuckle. I could not help but to click on it.
The user called himself LateNight_Joe, don’t bother looking. The account doesn’t exist anymore. When things started happening to me I checked. The post on r/nosleep even seems to be gone. I am glad I was able to grab a couple of the images he shared before it disappeared. The idea that all of this just does not exist anymore makes me even more worried. I am going to share this a few places and I hope it does not get taken down. I will try my best to retell his story as well. I may miss a few things and if so I am sorry. If someone else saw the post and I got it wrong, just let me know.
Well, Joe told a story of how he had been in a bit of a slump with the ladies. I found myself picturing a scrawny nerd of a man at first. The kind of keyboard warrior that rarely actually speaks to women. He swore that he had simply been bored and cleaning out his junk emails when he clicked on one with a subject line that read, “is anyone here real?” Now, any normal person knows what this is. This email is intended to trick some innocent user into clicking a link that can compromise your system. You wouldn’t click it and I would not have either. Joe, however, decided to reply to the email.
The screenshot does not show the picture of the smoking hot woman Joe describes. His story says that when he went back to save it the picture no longer existed. At the time, I thought he was completely full of it. Above the picture read, “I’m real are you?” Obviously a ploy to draw in a moron, right? Joe said that the brunette in the image had the most amazing green eyes and “curves in all the right places”. I remember those words because I gave an eye roll while reading them. He hit the reply button and typed out, “I’m real.” Within seconds Joe’s inbox had a new message from MelaniaLuvsU.
Joe said that the email had another picture and in it, Melania was unbuttoning her shirt. I laughed and thought of some sweaty teenager with a boner trying to contain his excitement. I mean, my experiences with guys like that gave me that impression. I know now you have to give people a little more credit, you know the whole, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” thing. Melania asked for a picture of Joe and he gladly obliged. The two of them emailed back-and-forth a few times, removing articles of clothing from what the story detailed. It was getting comical, my inner thoughts creating a movie of this sad scene.
When Melania replied this time, she asked for Joe’s phone number and Joe sent it. It took a few moments but his cell phone eventually buzzed next to him. This woman had started undressing and had sent him the picture along with the words, “You like?” If this woman was real, which I did not believe she was, then she was in fact very attractive. I was almost jealous of her body, not that I hate mine but I wished I had her ass. Joe’s reply was one of those silly heart eye emoji faces. She asked if she could see him and accompanied it with a kissy face. I almost wanted to vomit at the thought. That is until Joe sent her a picture of himself via text message.
Joe was hot, like really hot. It made me wonder why someone that attractive would be scamming some obviously fake female over the web. He had a beautiful smile, dark hair, and seemed to be in good shape. I am a sucker for hard chin lines and damn did he have one. Sorry, getting a little off track with that. Like I said, books and covers. Melania seemed to enjoy the show as well and replied, “Sexy!” with a little heart beside it. I was becoming more jealous. Joe stopped sharing the texts soon after but I saved what he had posted. Maybe for selfish reasons (so sue me) but I have them.
When the two of them had reached the point that they were getting down to more provocative conversation and had little clothing left Joe stopped being so descriptive. I would be lying if I said that I was not disappointed but looking back now I feel like a very stupid girl. Joe was probably ready to explode by this point and could only manage to ask, “What now?” Melania sent him one more picture with her bra off but her arms still covered her breasts. Her reply immediately after said, “Can I come over?” I can imagine all the blood from Joe's brain had taken residence somewhere else when he decided to give this stranger his address. He only received an image as a response.
That was when Joe's post changed completely. It went from a slightly awkward guy ranting about a completely impossible event to a man who fears for his life. You see, the picture that popped up on his screen was of Melania but her body had been mutilated. He seemed to struggle through describing slice marks across her abdomen that revealed organs beneath. Joe said that he could no longer admire her beautiful eyes because they had been gouged from her head. My mind was still on overdrive and my imagination had continued to create images in my head. I had to grab the wastebasket by my desk.
The final text from the stranger was what truly made me feel for Joe’s predicament. It read, “See you soon!” I can only imagine his sweaty excitement becoming as limp as another part of him in that exact moment. He had unwittingly given a psychotic killer all the information they would need to end his life as well and that point is what Joe stressed repeatedly at the end of his post. He begged for someone to help. The obvious response was for him to call the police but apparently, he had already done that. That was when I tried to get more information about the origin of the story and maybe even Joe.
The sun crept into my room as I continued to scour internet articles of a similar nature. A lot of urban legends and stories from Reddit popped up but nothing I thought was credible. That was when I decided to go back to the post and save it. That was also the first time I noticed it missing. My only other lead was the email that the stranger had written to Joe from originally. I knew it was a long shot but something in me wanted to help this person I had never met. Without thinking I copied the address, dropped it into an email and typed the words, “What did you do with Joe?” The message was gone before the truth sank in. I had made the same mistake as Joe. I had replied to the email.
A few seconds later I received an email from another address. The subject line read, “are you real?” I opened the email and the image within was the first one Joe had sent to Melania. I knew the path this lead to and I did not want to see it. I wondered if Joe was even alive anymore or if my actions could possibly kill him. I did not respond but that did not keep the emails from coming. One-by-one, I was sent emails from whoever sat on the other side. Some sick part of me kept opening the damn things and each time I was greeted by Joe undressing slowly at his computer chair. When it reached the point where I knew the end was close I finally hit the reply button. My fingers slammed on the keys, “I’m not telling you where I live asshole!” I sat with tears in my eyes staring at my inbox. I knew that another message would come soon enough. The bold blue text appeared at the top of my box, “I’m coming over!” My hand shook violently as my finger tapped the mouse to open it.
I expected the image of Joe but I was not ready for it. Again, I emptied my stomach into the trash. I was so focused on the picture that I had not noticed the words above it. Joe had been cut up so badly I could barely tell that he was once human. I had never in my life seen something so horrible. Just thinking about it now is making me cry again. I was about to exit out of my email altogether when I finally saw what this psychopath had sent me. Just above the image in plain black font was my address. I almost stopped breathing for a good ten seconds. I have no idea how they got my information but they know where I live. I immediately saved my files to a zip drive, gathered up some clothes and left my apartment. I simply could not risk this being real.
I am writing this from a public computer. I am afraid to say where. I tried uploading the files from my zip drive as proof but all of the images have been blurred. I do not know if this is something the stranger has done or if it was just a corrupted file. I am afraid of the answer and a lot of things lately. I find myself watching over my shoulder at every turn. I don’t even stay at one computer long enough to get much of this done. It has taken me a few weeks to complete and I just hope someone out there can help me. I will try posting it in several places and maybe email it to a few friends. Anything to make sure it does not disappear like Joe’s post. I am going to set up an account on Sync.com for security. If you can help or have any more information just send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*This was sent to my email last week. I do not know anyone named Maria and I am not sure how it reached me. I am not sure if this is a prank and I have not been able to locate any evidence that this is true. My only real clue is the email from the story but I am afraid to send a message to it. I just hope that this is either fake or Maria was able to get help.*