For the better part of the past year, dozens of female business owners in the South Carolina Upstate have been terrorized by anonymous, unsolicited text messages from an unknown sender(s) – messages which have been increasing in frequency and vulgarity in recent weeks.
And spreading in scope …
And while thousands of messages have been sent over the course of multiple months, only a handful of police reports have been filed with various Upstate law enforcement agencies related to the serial harassment. That is changing this week, though. A group of Upstate businesswomen who have found themselves on the receiving end of these disturbing messages are planning to present additional evidence during a meeting with the Greenville, S.C. police department on Friday at 8:30 a.m. EST.
Numerous other local law enforcement agencies are likely to receive similar reports, too.
As of this writing, no suspects have been identified and no arrests have been made in connection with the deluge of vile, harassing messages. In fact, most of the women who reported receiving the messages to local law enforcement were told nothing could be done unless the sender(s) specifically threatened violence against them.
The community of female entrepreneurs impacted by these messages came to light earlier this week in a post made to a private Facebook group which is dedicated to young professionals in the Greenville area. Within a few hours, the post had received thousands of views and hundreds of comments.
As more women began sharing their stories, a distinct pattern to the text blitzkrieg began to emerge.
Most of the targets of the harasser(s) indicated they began receiving messages in March or April of this year – but at least two women reported receiving messages from the stalker(s) dating back more than a year.
Many of the graphic messages are identical – almost as if they were copied and pasted prior to being sent to multiple recipients. According to the women I spoke with, though, the stalker(s) are clearly monitoring their social media accounts – sending text messages responding to their posts through an app that disguises their number. The messages range from rude and raunchy to bullying and belittling – with some reportedly crossing the line into menacing or even threatening language.
Not surprisingly, many of the women targeted by the harassment fear the potential for escalation on the part of the stalker(s).
“If they can find our numbers, they can find out where we live,” said Autumn Marie, an Upstate photographer who has been harassed by the stalker(s) since April.
“I have clients to look out for, too,” Marie said. “It’s a safety issue for me, for them – and a liability issue as well.”
As the breadth of the harassment became clear, women in the group began recognizing links to the stalker(s) targets.
“We are all connected in some way,” said Lisa Salas, who is also an Upstate businesswoman.
According to Salas – who also began receiving the messages in April 2022 – the women in the group have been working together to support one another, sharing information but also having each others’ backs on a personal level.
“It’s been very belittling and degrading,” Salas told me. “It’s just very sad.”
Aside from being professional women in the Upstate, there is another common denominator among those individuals being targeted by the stalker(s).
“We’re all super easy to find,” said Ashley Amundsen, an Upstate realtor.
Amundsen – who lives in Piedmont, S.C. – said the stalker(s) began contacting her in September, with the messages quickly ramping up in frequency and intensity. She also indicated the sender(s) were stalking her social media activity.
“They were letting me know they could see everything,” she said.
Stay tuned … this news outlet plans on following this developing story very closely as new information becomes available. Be on the lookout for additional reports as we continue our investigation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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