From cowardly racial slurs to baseless accusations of molestation, we count ten internet trolls who crossed the line and were exposed for it!
10 – Michael Brutsch,
- Michael Brutsch is a prolific Reddit user who moderated several controversial subreddit forums. Contributing under the username violentacrez (‘Violent Acres’), he circulated lots of explicit material in subforums including ‘Pics of Dead Kids’, ‘Rapebait’, ‘Jewmerica’ and the charming ‘Chokeabitch’. His most popular one, ‘Jailbait’, featured photos of underage girls in bathing suits, but was shut down in 2011 following a CNN exposé.
- The following year, a writer from Gawker identified him as Texan computer programmer, Michael Brutsch. When interviewed, Brutsch insisted he wasn’t doing anything illegal and that he wasn’t a paedophile – which is classic paedophile. Not long after, Brutsch was fired from his job, lost the health insurance benefits covering his disabled wife, and looked set to lose his home as well.
- He offered a half-hearted apology during his CNN interview, but refused to accept any real responsibility, claiming that the morally reprehensible material content he was circulating was strictly for laughs and that people found it funny.
9 – Darren Burton,
- Darren Burton was an infamous UK troll who frequently took to Facebook under the name ‘Nimrod Severn’ to leave cruel and insensitive comments on the tribute pages of the recently deceased.
- He would flood pages with remarks like ‘rest in piss’, upsetting and antagonising those who were trying to grieve. He also made liberal use of the ‘n’ word, and other offensive racial slurs.
- In response to his relentless cruelty, a journalist from BBC news show Panorama tracked him down, identifying him as railroad worker Darren Burton.
- When questioned, Burton admitted that he doesn’t care whether he hurts others. According to him, Facebook is an open forum where anyone can say whatever they want, consequences be damned. Cool attitude.
8 – Michael Josef Basl,
- Michael Josef Basl is an internet troll who wreaked havoc on the Moreno family, turning their offline lives into a living nightmare.
- It started in 2012 when William Moreno received a threatening email from someone calling themself ‘Eesh’. Eesh claimed William would be expelled from his university because of some inappropriate comments William had made online.
- Following this, William’s family home was broken into and flooded, and, in 2014, William’s parents received an ominous police phone call at two am, telling them to come outside without their son. They did so and armed officers tackled William.
- Eesh had given police a false tip-off, causing a SWAT team to respond. Posing as William, he claimed to have shot his parents and was now targeting his sister.
- Distressed, William attempted to take his own life by slashing his wrists. He survived, but further forum messages linked him to crimes like the molestation of his sister, the construction of pipe bombs, and the rape of a fellow student. Rumours that he was a paedophile also spread.
- In 2015, the Morenos exposed Eesh as thirty-four-year-old military veteran Michael Josef Basl and sued him. However, Basl denied most of the accusations and only admitted to writing the initial email.
7 – Charles Fitch,
- Charles Fitch was a notorious eBay troll who used his YouTube channel ‘Ebayisajoke’ to spout conspiracy theories about the market website and harass eBay sellers – particularly those running small businesses.
- Whenever these sellers ran auctions, Fitch would secure the winning bid, fail to pay, and then give the business a bad review. He also doctored pictures of the sellers and posted them online to ruin their reputations.
- In 2013, Fitch was tracked down by Fox News private investigators. The investigators found Fitch using Amazon, where he was selling MP3s of prank calls he made to eBay. Seriously, with the intensity of his grudge, you’d think eBay kicked his dog or pissed in his cereal.
- When confronted about being a troll, Fitch insisted he wasn’t doing anything illegal; in fact, he claimed he was the victim. After the exposé aired, Fitch filed for a personal protection order against a disgruntled eBay seller whom he’d harassed. It was denied.
6 – Dennis Markuze,
- In the mid-Nineties, several American atheists received aggressive emails from a ‘David Mabus’. The messages threatened mutilations and beheadings, and would often degenerate into strange incoherent rants.
- In early 2011, Mabus took his harrassment to Twitter to target atheists, including a man named Tim Farley. Mabus created literally hundreds of new accounts to get around Farley’s block and was obsessed with pissing off those who doubted the existence of God.
- Mabus’s victims established their harasser lived in Montreal, so started an online petition to get police to do something about him. Dennis Markuze, the man behind the Mabus persona, was eventually arrested.
- In 2012, Markuze was found guilty of making threats and received a suspended sentence. He was later re-arrested for violating this sentence and cussed at his arresting office, telling her that ‘The same thing will happen to you like what happened to the twin towers in 9/11’.
- He wound up in court again, but was given another suspended sentence because his psychiatrist believes he poses no threat to society.