Review

EVIL SHADOWS by Rick Hallock is more frightening than the scariest suspense thriller you could ever read because it is a true story. Being a victim of identity theft is frightening enough without the added trauma of finding out it is your own government doing the stealing. Who do you turn to? What do you do? Who can you trust?

EVIL SHADOWS is a true story of the extremes of identity theft that can lead to arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of the victim. It shows how the author’s identity was stolen and how that theft ultimately led to his financial ruin and closure of his successful business enterprise, all the result of actions of federal agents and prosecutors. After an exhaustive investigation, the author lays bare the whole story of how his identity was stolen and how it was used as cover for commission of other crimes. The story tells of his becoming the primary suspect in a worldwide federal investigation for those crimes and how federal authorities leveled their awesome and destructive powers directly at him in their zeal to make an arrest. It details the destruction of his successful publishing company and of how he narrowly avoided being arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. The story concludes with self-help chapters on the subjects of Prevention, Detection and Recovery from identity theft.

Rick Hallock had his identity stolen from him and was financially ruined by greedy government agents. We live in the United States and we go about our daily lives with the naive assumption that we are relatively safe. We know the government doesn’t always act in our best interest, but we do not expect them to target our very identity.

My husband is one of the many who are perfectly content living his life without a computer or any other electronic gadget – and no, he’s not old. I, on the other hand, love technology. Never before have his words hit me as seriously as when I was reading this book.

I like to think that I’ve taken as many precautions as I can to protect myself because of the information we put out there everyday through social media, etc., but in reading this book, I have truly been deceiving myself and you, no doubt, are as well. I may have my bank cards and credit cards set with fraud alert and other precautions, but if the government (or anyone) decides to target you, you really have no defense other than your common sense and instincts.

Case in point – (book quote) “In early March the first red flag warning of really bad times ahead appeared and just as quickly vanished. Had I taken the time to consider it then, perhaps I would have realized something foul was happening. In my haste, I blew it off as some kind of mistake or computer glitch. The indicator came while InterNIC was processing a new domain name registration request.”

Rick Hallock was contacted by his credit card company to confirm a charge. He did not recognize the charge and the domain being setup was not authorized by him or his company. The fraud had begun with a simple transaction using his stolen credit card number even though he disputed it. The charge was taken off of his account and he went on with living life. Little did he know that he was being set up, by our government’s employees no less, for identity theft. To quote Rick, “Warnings of identity theft can be just this simple: a routine email message I wrongly interpreted to be an indication of a mistake or computer glitch was in fact the first indication that my identity had been stolen. Coincidences are planned events, and had I simply followed that rule, I would have questioned the event and probably learned of the theft of my identity and fraudulent use of my credit card and, armed with that information, I might have been able to avoid complete destruction of our business and my personal financial ruin.”

I don’t know if I would have explored any further before reading this book. I have had one credit card cancelled and re-issued four times throughout a number of years because of fraudulent charges that the credit card company found and notified me of. I now know that should it happen again, I need to document further, but how many times have we had this happen and not gone further? The charges are removed and we go along our merry way, not questioning the incident other than breathing a sigh of relief and thinking – “wow, glad the company took the charge off of my card.”

There is a huge amount of information from the investigation the author did on his own.

There was a second charge which he also handled and had removed, none the wiser at what was happening. A third incident, one the ordinary person would not find odd, “In late May (May 26th, to be exact), a third, less-obvious red flag appeared in the guise of a supposed survey taker who came to the house, knocking uncharacteristically on the front door. Uncharacteristic inasmuch as anyone could see the front porch and entrance to the home were for entertaining and not for primary entry. This message was communicated by there being no walkway covering the substantial distance from the drive to the front porch. The parking area of the drive, however, was adjacent to a side door that served as our primary entry. Other than this survey taker, I couldn’t recall anyone else ever making this mistake.” He goes on to describe an awkward scenario where the survey taker stood sweating in the hot sun rather than come into his office, as well as asking only a few questions.

“The survey-taker’s visit, I would later learn, coincided with Agent Johnson’s sworn affirmation that, ‘on May 26, 2000, at approximately 12:30 pm, SSA Johnson surveyed the 194…’The guy who visited us that day was a survey-taker, of sorts. But it would be years before I learned his true motives were to survey and case our home and my office in preparation for an attack. While I had heard of ruses of this sort, never had I considered that a federal agent would actually pull a “Rockford Files” stunt like this. This event was yet another red flag of warning and foreboding and another missed opportunity.”

In the book, the reader will learn how a search and seizure warrant was procured by concealing pertinent information from the judge and then hampering the author’s ability to prove his innocence by sealing the court documents. It is scary to realize and read in black and white that our government can find and use any and all our personal information however they chose to, even ruining our lives in the process. Because, who is the government? The government is made up of many, many unscrupulous human beings who think nothing of ruining another human’s life. And, we have almost no recourse.

There is a huge amount of information from the investigation the author did on his own. The cover-up that the author found is frightening and could happen to anyone. The book is well-worth reading and there is information in the back on how to handle identity theft.

I recommend reading the book. I am giving the book 5 stars. I did find that parts of the book could have been combined, perhaps condensed, but the story is well documented and easy to read and follow.

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About the Reviewer

Donna McBroom-Theriot
Writer. Book Reviewer. Southern Lady. Connoisseur of Chocolate. My Life is like an episode of "I love Lucy!" I'm a writer, book reviewer, and a Southern Lady who loves her Sweet Tea. My blog, My Life. One Story at a Time. is where I've been writing short stories since 2009. As luck would have it, the very first short story I wrote was published within months of my writing it. This quote pretty much sums me up: "Deep in my heart, I know there’s no promise I’ll be free from trouble in this life. In fact, I’m usually either getting out of trouble, currently in trouble, or about to meet trouble around the next corner." Well, you know that old saying, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions" - that road is usually the one I'm on! And, as much I used to mock (we all grow up eventually) the Cajun dialect, 15 years ago, I found myself marrying the sweetest Cajun boy - complete with the requisite white trawl boots and a trawl boat. I love writing stories about the South and life with our two German Shepherds, and the four kids who meander in and out of our lives as they live their own journeys. Most days you'll find me out on the front porch swing, with the dogs at my feet, a tall glass of sweet iced tea close by, and a good book. It's what life in the South is all about. - See more at: http://mylife-in-stories.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html#sthash.VAmp18XE.dpuf