• Precious Williams
  • A Cautionary Tale: Google is your friend; Facebook, not so much.....
A Cautionary Tale: Google is your friend; Facebook, not so much.....
ABOUT A YEAR ago, I was putting the finishes touches to my memoir, beginning work on my second book, and generally doing what I do....Out of the blue I received a friend request from a stranger on Facebook. Nothing especially strange about that. This would-be Facebook friend had written an autobiography and was about to self-publish it. She claimed she admired my writing and really, really wanted me to write a "blurb" she could feature on her book jacket. I was a little suspicious about her motivation in contacting me. When seeking out blurbs for a book you generally approach authors who've already had books published. Why was she asking me: a freelance journalist, whose first book was not being published for another year or so? Unfortunately, instead of acting on my suspicions, I gave her the benefit of the doubt and accepted her Facebook friend request. Had I Googled her instead of adding her, none of the following would have taken place... I read her book. The book was reasonably well-written and she had led an extremely interesting life, filled with crime sprees, drug addiction, forays into prostitution and pimping! I wrote a short blurb and emailed it to her. ~ A FEW WEEKS later we met up for coffee so that she could present me with an advance review copy of her upcoming book. From this first meeting she seemed to want to build a fast best-friendship. I began receiving daily (occasionally actually hourly) text messages and emails from her. I presumed she was simply lonely. She had just been released from a long stretch in prison for perverting the course of justice, among other things, and she was having problems in her personal life.

Gradually, her contact became more and more intrusive and worrying. She began making claims about friendships with various celebrity figures in the music and publishing worlds. I started to discreetly ask questions about her and realised that her claims were pure fantasy. I finally, belatedly Googled her and learned that as well as her 'form' for perverting the course of justice and financial crimes (two or three lengthy prison stints, so far) she had a reputation for stalking, threatening and harassing people - almost always fellow authors and journalists! A literary stalker... I tried to gently ease out of my 'relationship' (if you can call it that) with the Stalker. I stopped answering her calls and stopped replying to her many, many emails and texts and Facebook comments. She reacted to this rejection very dramatically. Her whole style changed and instead of showering me with overblown comments (previously she'd repeatedly informed me how 'pretty' and how 'precious' she felt I was. Telling me this almost every time she made contact) she launched into angry mode: sending abusive emails (some of them using pseudonyms). One of her ranting emails read thus: "I wonder if your publisher will get a prettier, less ugly, less toothy and fat-headed version of Precious for publicity?" another read: "You should be working as a toilet-cleaner, like all the other Nigerians..." ~ BEFORE THE STALKER had fully jumped the shark I'd mentioned to her that I was plucking up the courage to ask the author Maya Angelou to consider blurbing my book. Stalker promptly contacted Dr Angelou, advising her not to blurb my book, saying that my writing is "ghastly" and that I am "ugly" and that I was "lying about having a publishing contract - nobody would ever publish your writing." The Stalker continued to harass my colleagues, employers and friends. She sent out a flurry of fake emails she claimed I'd written, in a bid to jeopardize my reputation. She contacted all sorts of media figures, mutual Facebook friends, acquaintances and colleagues of mine - and tried to feed them the line that I was evil, that I was trying to undermine them all, and that I was also somehow responsible for her own shortcomings in life. Some of the people she contacted took her at face value and believed that the fake emails and fake documents she'd sent them really were from me. How could anyone be so naive, knowing she has served prison time, on more than one occasion, specifically for acts of forgery? Maybe they, too, hadn't bothered to Google her before giving her the benefit of the doubt... The Stalker's emails, voice messages and so on became almost comically vitriolic. Being called 'an ugly Nigerian nightmare' and being repeatedly told that you're better suited to working as a toilet cleaner and being told you can't write-for-shit is unpleasant but it's not life-threatening stuff. I took it in my stride. The Stalker's ongoing spreading of lies to my media colleagues is a whole other story and is completely unacceptable - but I presumed the recipients of her tirades would simply Google her and realise she's not exactly a reliable source of information. So, for months I ignored her. If you ignore an attention-seeking drama queen they'll grow bored and move on to a fresh victim, or maybe - hopefully - stop victimising people period. Right? Not in this instance. My silence ignited the Stalker's wrath. My Stalker was like the Glenn Close character in the movie 'Fatal Attraction', screaming I WILL NOT BE IGNORED and wreaking more and more havoc. And the Stalker certainly would not be ignored. Her actions and threats eventually become so extreme that I had to report her to the police. During the police investigation, the Stalker contacted the detective by telephone and actually pretended to be me. She told the detective, “This is Precious Williams and I’d like to drop the charges against XXX. I made it all up.” Fortunately the detective realised she was speaking to an imposter. This latest impersonation attempt was simply added to the Stalker's charge sheet. ~ THE LOCAL POLICE referred the case on to the CID (the UK police department dealing with the most serious cases). By the time the CID got involved, the Stalker had just been sent to prison on various other, un-related charges. After a CID investigation, the Crown Prosecution Service found enough evidence to sanction a prosecution against the Stalker for harassing me. They plucked her out of prison for the morning, and she was formally charged. She's up in court to answer those charges later this year.

Since then, the Stalker has been released from prison (in relation to other charges) on conditional bail. She continues to forge emails and other documents, claiming said documents were produced by me. If you receive an email, phone call or any other communication about me or supposedly from me that strikes you as suspicious, bizarre or abusive – please alert me straight away at: precious at preciouswilliams dot net And the next time an utter stranger adds you on Facebook, think twice and remember that Google is sometimes your friend.

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  • Irma Gonzalez

    Egads, Batman! Greetings in the morning! This was such a pleasure to read. Now I'm smiling. Good research on the penal system. You go, Girl! You Own This. Love the title.