Finally out of Prison!

Well the past 17 months hasn’t been anything less than interesting. The amount I’ve been able to grow in such a short amount of time has been a blessing. I wouldn’t change anything that I had to go through and I’m extremely grateful for the people who have been on my side through this crazy journey. It’s time to write the next chapter and I’m beyond excited what lies ahead! Over the next couple of posts I’ll write about my experience in prison, the people I’ve met, and what comes next. Stay tuned!

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Life After the Raid…

After being raided I wasn’t sure what to do, I had every form of communication seized other than my PS4. Actually, as the raid team was leaving I ignorantly asked, “You’re not going to take my PlayStation?” One of the agents, with a confused looked on his face replied, “Should we?” The answer was of course no. My life had just been rocked at 5 A.M. by a dozen SWAT members and FBI agents. I needed at least one form of communication.

Now, it wasn’t a surprise that this day had come, I knew for years it was the inevitable. However, I didn’t expect it to be this day. I wasn’t nearly as prepared as I hoped to be. I had a “go bag”, a few assets, and a couple people in place to help me, or so I thought. One thing I learned is that you can never count on anyone, except yourself.

When I was 17 years old, I found my partner/programmer/best friend in an IRC channel freely helping people with their code. I was young and hungry, but I still missed an important piece of my puzzle, a programmer. It took some convincing, but I eventually coaxed him to be my partner in crime, pun intended. He was a few years older than me, a bit wiser, and could code godlike software. I made a promise to him that I’ve kept till this day, I said, “If we ever get raided, I’ll take the fall 100%, you have kids.”

When you’re part of a criminal organization, there’s a certain level of trust and confidence you have in each other. After a couple weeks of confiding with one of my associates, I was on the phone with him when he hit me with, “My lawyer told me not to speak to you anymore.” CLICK.

Look, I get it, I’ve been burned, the FBI seized all my phones and computers, but this wasn’t just an associate. This is a person who I considered my best friend and a brother. I mean we’ve had discussions about if we were ever raided, we would be there for one another. I played a key role in his success, I single-handedly generated thousands upon thousands of sales to his products and made him God knows how many millions of dollars. We spoke every day for years, stayed at each others houses, partied all over the country, and had countless dinners together. To me, it was a betrayal that I couldn’t predict happening in a million years.

I’m not going to cry about it, everything that was happening, I definitely had coming. I’m just telling you how it was from my perspective. I think the stress of having basic living expenses of $10,000 a month with no income, in addition to almost everyone turning their back on me took a huge toll on me. The worst part was I felt that my greatest passion in life had been taken from me, hacking and spamming. It probably sounds crazy, but this was what I looked forward to every morning I woke up.

Catch Me If You Can

One of the reasons I titled this post “Catch Me If You Can” is because it’s one of my all-time favorite movies. For the majority of my adult life, I’ve considered myself a modern-day Frank Abagnale. In my post “My First E-mail Spam Operation”, I told you that I moved to Kissimmee, FL. What I didn’t tell you is that I was actually on probation from a four year suspended sentence in Arkansas. I obviously violated my probation by moving, but the truth is I had violated way before that and I made the decision to run. I was 20 years old and there wasn’t a chance in hell I was going to do a day in prison.

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Now, nearly five years later I was basically in the same predicament. I guess it’s true when they say history has a funny way of repeating itself. That left me with the dilemma of do I continue running or do I finally accept responsibility. I’m not going to lie, I thought long and hard about my next move. I weighed several options which included fleeing the country to Panama to work for a fantasy sports website. Another option was to move to Costa Rica and continue my hacking/spamming operations. I couldn’t help but to fantasize about the lifestyle portrayed in the movie “Runner Runner”. Ultimately, I decided that I was tired of running and I was going to face this head-on.