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:
Log in or register to post comments


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

Tam Nguyen's picture

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.

Jeff McCollough's picture

You're right.

Kyle Medina's picture

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.

Crystal Provencher's picture

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. :)

Tam Nguyen's picture

Dude you be creeping!

Robert Slowley's picture

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.

Muyingo Siraj's picture

Oh no.

steve the lacky's picture

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

jon snow's picture

He must get his literary inspiration from Mr D Trump

Joshua Kolsky's picture

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!

Joshua Kolsky's picture

Will do

Patrick Hall's picture

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!

Mike Kelley's picture

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

Chris Adval's picture

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

Roman Kazmierczak's picture

trust no one on eBay >;->

Chris Adval's picture

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.

Alex Cooke's picture

What's your call sign?


Ariel Martini's picture

"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?

Pedro Pulido's picture

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".

More comments