For eight years, someone has used the mail and the Internet to unleash a torrent of abuse upon Richard and Joanne Marraccini of Schaumburg, Ill., reports the Chicago Tribune. Two briefcases at their home are stuffed with the evidence. There are white-supremacist tracts sent out under Richard Marraccini’s name, pages of private financial data mailed at random across the country, and panting letters from inmates lured by fake pen pal listings. The Marraccinis say they know who’s behind the trouble. But so far, the culprit’s tracks have been covered so skillfully that two police departments and even federal authorities haven’t been able to stop it.
“I couldn’t even imagine the anger that would make someone continue with this,” said the lead investigator in the case. It began, the Marraccinis believe, with a minor neighborhood dispute. A man who lived near their former home complained about a noisy appliance, and in 1996, after a long and bitter fight, state regulators ruled that the Marraccinis had to move the unit. A few months later, unwanted catalogs, magazines, chain letters and pitches for everything from sex toys to hair-restorers began filling the Marraccinis’ mailbox. Soon, someone got hold of Richard Marraccini’s Social Security number, birth date, bank account number and other personal data–probably, the couple guesses, by raiding their mailbox–and used it to draft a bogus credit report. In 2000, some of the Marraccinis’ friends, relatives and co-workers received an anonymous letter mailed from Florida. Its purported author was a woman who claimed Richard Marraccini had molested her when she was a girl. Then disturbing sexual fantasies addressed to Joanne Marraccini began to arrive.