Tracking Down a Troll That Went Too Far

Tracking Down a Troll That Went Too Far

We have to deal with annoying Internet trolls on a daily basis. They usually try to start an argument by posting a ridiculous comment on Fstoppers, Facebook, or YouTube. They used to really bother me, but at this point, I've become pretty impervious to negative comments, but sometimes, these trolls take things too far, especially when they think they are anonymous.

Last week, I put about 20 photography-related items on eBay to sell at auction. I wrote a post about these auctions on Fstoppers, and as always, I was prepared for some negative comments. 
One commenter, who I assumed was using a fake name, "Jose Sanchez," wrote multiple comments on the post. I ended up deleting these comments, so I don't have the exact quotes, but the first comment was something about my items being overpriced. I think he specifically made a remark about my D800 having a starting bid of $1,000 and that being a ripoff. 
The next comment he made was about me being an untrustworthy eBay seller, because I had horrible feedback. Anyone can see my eBay feedback. It's public. I've been a user since 2002 and I have 805 different feedbacks. Out of 805, I have 6 negative reviews, and all of them were offered a 100% refund.
After "Jose Sanchez" commented four different times on this post, it was pretty obvious it was a fake account made just to troll me. I decided to ban Jose from Fstoppers, and I moved on. 
Fast forward one week. Most of the items had been sold and paid for, but one of the sold D800s hadn't been paid for days after the close of the auction. I then got this message from the winner:
After receiving this message, I was immediately skeptical, but this eBay user did have a legitimate history so I decided to respond: 

At this point I felt like it was pretty obvious that this was the same person and they had purposefully won the auction with no intention of paying me to perhaps teach me some sort of lesson about eBay? I guess... Anyway, I wanted to see if I could prove it was the same person.

I noticed this eBay user had items of their own for sale. The auctions said the items were located in Montana. I went back into the Fstoppers backend and looked up "Jose Sanchez." This user appeared to use a fake name, but a real email: A Google search of this email didn't bring up anything, but a search of "pgo2372 photography" brought up this website:

I noticed a few landmarks in the photos and searched for them and found out they were located in Montana. I continued looking around and found this person's Photobucket website where they housed images used for eBay. This page clearly showed the same email address and the eBay user name as a watermark on the images. This was proof that it was, in fact, the same person. 
Of course I was then easily able to figure out this person's name and a range of other personal information that I will not share on this post. I don't want anyone bothering them. That's not the point. 
I wrote this post because I want to remind everyone that every time you write that offensive comment or mess with someone online, you are doing it to a real person. It's very easy to say things about people, especially public figures online that you would never say to their face. Sometimes, like in this situation, things escalate to a point far beyond words. This person didn't harm me or steal from me, but for some reason, they decided to spend their time and risk their impeccable eBay feedback to inconvenience me. Why? We will probably never know, but I have to deal with stuff like this all the time. 
I'm always up for a healthy debate, but there is a pretty clear line between a disagreement online and someone who is just trying to make someone else's life miserable. We never delete legitimate negative comments on Fstoppers, but we will continue to ban those people who only comment when they want to instigate, especially those with fake accounts. If you are one of those people, and you think you're anonymous, as you can see above, it's not too hard to figure out who someone really is. If you're unsure if you're trolling or not, simply ask yourself: "would I say this to this person if they were standing right in front of me?" If the answer is "no," then it's probably not worth typing. 
South Park's recent episodes have covered this perfectly:
Lee Morris's picture

Lee Morris is a professional photographer based in Charleston SC, and is the co-owner of

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This is great. How embarrassing when he gets on the site and sees this one

putting their information out there is probably not the best idea, just fyi

It's for you to avoid dealing with this same individual in the future, FYI.

I get that. I just think that with this platform, it's a hard place to put someone's personal info out there. Those kinds of situations almost never end well.

What personal info?

Lee didn't show anything that isn't public knowledge (ebay user, website, etc...)

The only private thing he published was the messages and he had no reasonable expectation of privacy just like any emails you write to someone unless specified.

The dick got outted. Rejoice.

I made sure not to show the full email or write out the persons name. I don't have any issue giving out the eBay user name of someone who purposefully buys items with no intention to pay.

You're right.

Everything Lee put up was public, since Lee was able to find it. I find post like these calling out trolls but hide their usernames. Screw that they are fucking with you and if you're going to publicly shame the person. At least do it to the full extent. Its all public knowledge anyway.

It's so sad that we live in a world like this and unfortunately I dont think it's going to improve anytime soon. Stupidity like this is an incurable disease, you'll be better off avoiding those who are infected. :)

Dude you be creeping!

What a waste of (everyone's!) time it is to be an asshole on the internet!

Been there. Done that.

This fool posted a computer background image as his header on his FB photography page. He advertises himself as a professional photographer with 20 years of experience. He didn't say the picture was not his, but he didn't correct people who congratulated him on what a great picture it was. When I called him on it, this is the message he sent me on FB. Tool.

Oh no.

HAHAHAH dont you just love internet tuff guys HAHHAHAHAH, my IG page get them all the time but i post things that call for it, since i shoot a lot Graffitti writers work and them doing work the haters make all kinds of comments , but its fun almost like a bar with people drinking HAHHAHAHAH

He must get his literary inspiration from Mr D Trump

Hey on a good note i fired up that Photoflex Starlite today and couldn't be more happy with it. Thanks for the fast shipping and quick reply to my question. I'd definitely buy from you again in the future.

Lol. Make sure you leave me positive feedback to outweigh all the negative ones!

Will do

Ah the old starlite....I hate to see that go since it was used on so many of our productions. Just make sure you NEVER touch that bulb after it's been on for 5 mins!

Remember when the gridded strip caught on fire when we were filming WAMA I? I do. That smell will never leave me


Well I don't know you super personally Lee, but after our interaction at PPE 2016 you came off as a very trustworthy person to me, especially with dropping that super great knowledge down to me! ;)

I may be in person but on eBay I can't be trusted

trust no one on eBay >;->

Well I'd trust your score, 800:1 ratio, seems legit to me, if we never met before too.

WOW. I sold a piece of ham radio gear that was about 20 years old. Someone wrote me telling me to produce the original box before I sell it to prove it was mine. I told him not to bid on it, I don't keep boxes from 20 years ago and the add says no box.. Of course he bid and won, and then didn't pay saying I didn't have the original box. LOL they are all out there.

What's your call sign?


"Of course I was then easily able to figure out this person's name and a range of other personal information that I will not share on this post. I don't want anyone bothering them. That's not the point. "

If you provide in the post exactly all unblurred usernames and steps you needed to locate this, I guess you already shared the information, right?

Hey unhappy with life little person who's targeting the web for attention ! how's it going ? here's a part of Lee's post that suits you just fine!

"I've become pretty impervious to negative comments, but sometimes, these trolls take things too far".

Hey my friend. I guess you didn't understand my comment. I was criticizing the fact that the post revealed all usernames involved, making the "i'm not sharing this person's personal information" statement ambiguous or invalid. It was a criticism and not a negative comment.
Now you personally attacked and insulted me out of nowhere, and that's much closer to trolling and "targeting the web for attention" than what I wrote. Thanks for your understanding.

Lee didn't share ANY personal information about the dude, just already public eBay information.

I totally agree. Using the "Fstoppers User database" for your "personal crusade" against some eBay troll is definitely a misuse of personal information provided to you as a business and a violation against privacy statements. Nothing to be proud of nor to bragg with on the internet. I as a user am providing you my personal information in the hope that you handle them carefully and that you are keeping them secure, but you are using it for your personal stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with Fstoppers but only with your personal eBay matters. After reading this, I actually think about instantly deleting my account, so I can be sure it won't be misused.

No, "Jose Sanchez" commented on this site. Any author/admin can look up info suspecting the account is fake. As has been determined, the account is fake. Nothing breaching the privacy policy there. You should delete your account though if you're that concerned

Let me quote from the post above: " I went back into the Fstoppers backend and looked up 'Jose Sanchez'." - and yes, this is not what the "Fstoppers backend" is made for. This is a privacy violation. Period.

We're quoting are we? From the Privacy Policy "may use or disclose personal or non-personal information: (i) in cases where we believe in good faith that it is necessary to prevent a crime, an injury or financial loss to ourselves or to third parties; (ii) to protect against misuse or unauthorized use of the Services (including violation of the Terms of Use);

Exactly! And that's the Privacy Policy I have accepted for as a site. Using this data for his personal matters is not a "necessity to prevent a crime" (with This matter also doesn't injure or cause any financial loss. It is his freaking personal matter and not the matter of Misusing the data of a site (that he co-owns) for his personal stuff, does not comply with the privacy policy. What would you say, if the manager of your bank would use your personal information for his private stuff, just because he can and he has access to the data?! Holy cow, why do so less people care about privacy?

Ariei is right, anyone with a bit of time on hand can find out how that person is. Maybe that is what the writer intended it to be; not just give it out,but find it out yourself.

what would be the purpose of digging in to find out who he is ? to bully him ? to haunt him ? who in their right mind would waste their time to do that? get a life...

Lee wrote this to alert to this kind of situations. he didn't rat out on this particular John Doe. He did it to alert us on all people doing it and to be cautious about it. at least that's how i interpret this article.

jizzz.... if you want to go ahead and use this info to seek the guy go right ahead. Who ever is up for that, i'd say your mind is pretty twisted and you got a LOTTA FREE time !!

If the info is all public, he didn't do anything wrong.

You must take this ebay stuff to heart Lee, if people don't pay me for an Item I sell online within 24 hours I just close the listing and re-list the item or give it up for a second chance offer to the next bider. I don't even look at the messages they send me. We all think we have this layer of security/protection of being anonymous online. Its not very hard for someone with the right skill set to backdoor into a sites server and start a trace-rout on incoming IP addresses. (I'm not condoling someone do this, as it would be an illegal crime and one should never log onto a box without written consent) I'm just assuming that a majority of people online are not using DNS blockers, or VPN's to surf the web in which case all this personal information could be obtained fairly quickly. There will always be tolls on the internet, I get them all the time on reddit. The best thing to do is just not respond to them at all. Listening is the best practice for everything online. The more people talk, the ignorance is reviled. I'm glad you posted this article Lee. Although I don't always agree with things on the f-stoppers site and maybe post a negative comment here and there, I'm glad the site exist, I check it daily for news, and just to see what others are thinking/feeling about stories.

Damn, you have some luck dude. Didn't someone once lift your entire wedding photography website and sold himself as a wedding photographer with your site? You need to buy a clove of garlic, or something...

Lee is now getting a clove of garlic from every writer for his birthday.


First of all, Lee - stop peddling your old junk on eBay... people only buy it thinking it will get them closer to this

Nicely done man, reading stuff like this really boils my blood more than it probably should.

This internet is full of hateful people who hide behind the "anonymity" of their proxies. Many years ago I got involved in usenet forums, specifically where things got so bad that the trolls literally caused mayhem in my life. It doesn't help when you have a very unique name like mine.

It also didn't help when Google bought Dejanews (the usenet archives) and put those archives onto the www, further allowing anonymous people to post to usenet through their interface called Google Groups. What made it even worse was when Google, in their wisdom, allowed webmasters to import entire chunks of usenet archives to their web based forums (sic) to give the impression of a busy portal.

So in essence this allowed trolls to not only post anonymously whatever they wanted about whoever they wanted, but it also came with a built in replication mechanism to ensure that their crap would perpetuate and be indexed by Google constantly and forever.

It hurt me a lot. More than I can measure.

some people just need to get a life...
But its like someone sayd
"If you dont have hatters, you are doing it rong!"

I had a similar incident on EBay. I won an auction and paid for the item. After over a week the seller contacted me 'outside' of EBay to tell me I needed to send him more money 'outside' of EBay to cover the shipping which I had already pad for with the payment of the item. The shipping on EBay was 12.99 or something but he needed me to pay almost 100 dollars to 'guarantee' the item would be 'received'. I told him I already paid for the shipping and told him to refer to the ad he placed. He told me that he wouldn't be sending the item and that I need to agree to cancel the purchase. I contacted EBay with copies of the emails he sent me demanding more money but since I had already paid for the item I needed to wait until after the expected received date past before I could open a case and get a refund. My money was tied up for over 2 months because of this person. I did get my money back but couldn't purchase a similar item until I got my money back from this incident. Tied me up for months in limbo. No sympathy from EBay either.

Honestly I don't understand why people go to those lengths to bother other people. Its like the internet makes people fearless. Rant done!

Lee, I would hope you pursue this with the Ebay Resolution center. At a minimum you would get your listing fees back which you honestly deserve. Ebay transactions are legally binding and this should go against his record so others don't transact with him!

This is awesome Lee thank you for doing not letting this go and posting this. I have no idea what drives these people, seems like a gross way to live.

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