A man determined to torment a former roommate in Watertown used skills gained as a computer-science major and a professional software writer - along with some basic human engineering - to repeatedly target the woman, her family, her friends and her colleagues with sexually explicit messages, bomb threats to institutions in Waltham and Chelmsford made in their names, for some 18 months until his arrest last week, according to an affidavit by an FBI agent on the case.
Ryan Lin, 24, currently faces one charge of cyberstalking. But the affidavit suggests the possibility of additional charges - for example, for possession of the child pornography Lin allegedly used as part of his online harassment campaign, and for the bomb threats.
And the affidavit leaves open the possibility other people could be charged - Lin allegedly posted the woman's person information on a well known "doxxing" site, where additional people may have used it to harass her.
Officials charge that starting in April, 2016, Lin not only sent the woman and her acquaintances harassing messages but stuck her name on bomb threats to schools and institutions that included Brandeis and Bentley universities, the Waltham Public Library, public and private schools and daycare centers in Waltham, and public schools in Chelmsford.
He allegedly and repeatedly sent messages in her name and purporting to describe her sexual desires - including with children at one point - to acquaintances of her family members. He also revealed personal information she had never told anybody about - except her personal journal, stored on Google Docs.
In one case, he managed to find and contact somebody who had hired the woman to dog sit - allegedly telling her the woman had killed her dog. That brought Weston Police racing to the person's house - where they found the dog OK. In another case, he allegedly posted her alleged rape and BDSM desires on a fetish site that led to at least three men simply showing up at her new home looking for her.
Lin tried to hide his tracks through extensive use of various anonymizing networks and techniques to hide his IP address - such as the use of VPNs and the anonymizing TOR network, but he also used simpler techniques to gain access to the woman's diary and photos. These included simply walking into her unlocked room when they shared a Watertown apartment with two other people and turning on her un-password-protected laptop, the affidavit says.
The harassment proved so unrelenting the woman finally moved out of Massachusets altogether, officials say.
As they were following the digital footsteps that Lin proved unable to hide - such as his browser history on his former work computer and information from at least one of the VPN providers he allegedly used - investigators were also talking to people who knew him, going back to his days in high school in Connecticut, where several of his classmates told Waltham detectives that he forged Facebook pages in their names and sexually harassed female students, the affidavit states.
At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where Lin majored in computer science, two other students went to court to try to get him to leave them alone and stop impersonating them, the affidavit says, adding one also charged him with e-mailing her rape threats.
Before he moved in with the woman and the other two roommates - whom he had contacted via a Craigslist ad - he threatened to kill his previous roommate, the affidavit alleges. And while he reserved his ire for the woman, he also worried the other two people: He'd leave half-eaten food in closets and once smeared mayonnaise on the living-room floor as part of "redecorating," the affidavit states.