High-tech locks, security cameras, and complex alarm systems, oh my! We’ll install any number of gizmos and gadgets inside our homes to keep our families safe. It’s what helps us sleep at night.
But these technologies can have dark consequences as one mother of four discovered. At first she was amused when she heard her young daughter talking to her bedroom camera; but when she figured out why, the family wouldn’t sleep soundly again.
The LeMay family, a tribe that includes mother Ashley LeMay, her longtime husband, and the four young daughters they share, lived out a happy existence in the town of Nesbit, Mississippi.
Facebook – Ashley LeMay
Generally, the family was a joyous one. They took pleasure in playing dress-up, rocking team sports, and spending time outside. However, there was one issue that gave the LeMays cause for concern…
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One of the LeMay daughters, only four years old, had a complex medical history. One of her ailments included a propensity for occasional seizures, a condition that was unfortunate but ultimately not life-threatening.
Facebook – Ashley LeMay
However, needless to say, children — especially ones who can require extra care — need proper supervision. Mother Ashley worked nights as a medical researcher and as such needed a solution to help keep her daughter safe and happy.
When LeMay encountered discounted Ring security systems at a Black Friday sale, she thought she’d hit the jackpot. She purchased the seemingly nifty device and brought it home, hoping it would be an aide to her and her family.
However, just days after installing the cameras, what at first appeared as a blessing would quickly spiral into one of the worst nightmares a parent could have. The family never could have predicted it.
The terrifying situation all began to unfold on December 4th, when 8 year-old Alyssa LeMay heard strange sounds and unsettling music emanating from the bedroom she and her sisters shared.
The confused third-grader wandered inside and suddenly she heard something that shocked her young ears. A strange voice had begun to speak to her. “Hello there,” an unseen man said.
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Alyssa was taken completely off guard. She’d never heard anything like it before, and didn’t know where it was coming from. She began to pace her room, picking up toys to see if they could be the culprits behind the disembodied voice.
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Then, suddenly, the stranger began to shout racial slurs at the child, continuing maniacally until finally, filled with terror, Alyssa couldn’t take it anymore. She then screamed, “What? I can’t hear you!”
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As if things couldn’t get any creepier, the voice coming from the Ring camera began playing the song “Tip Toe Through The Tulips,” a tune that, due to its eerie nature, has been featured in many a horror movie.
The hacker then encouraged the young girl to call her mother a racial slur, and demanded her to repeat it back to him. “Come on, girl, say it with me,” he coaxed.
In a state of panic, Alyssa cried out “Mom? Who is that?” The hostile stranger replied, “I’m your best friend. You can do whatever you want right now. You can mess up your room; you can break your TV. You can do whatever you want.”
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“Who is that?” Alyssa repeated, growing increasingly distressed. “I’m your best friend, Santa Claus,” was the answer that came from the Ring device. Finally, her instincts taking hold, Alyssa stated “I don’t know who you are” and exited the bedroom.
While all this was happening, it took a second for the adult LeMays to catch on. Ashley had been just down the block from their suburban home when she received a strange call from her husband.
When the young mother picked up, her spouse asked her if she had been playing a joke on the girls, speaking with them through the Ring camera installed in their room. Totally confused, Ashley checked the Ring app on her phone.
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“I started watching the video on my phone and when I heard his voice and realized it was not my husband’s voice my heart just dropped and I ran back to the house,” Ashley remarked, recalling the horrific memory.
The family called Ring that very night, as they certainly had many questions for the home security service. Anxiously, they awaited some sort of response that might be able to assuage their fears.
“I don’t feel it was a coincidence that I have four girls and they were trying to gain their trust, telling her she could do whatever she wanted,” Ashley said, guessing as to what the cruel hacker’s intentions may have been.
Eventually they uninstalled the cameras, but the family still didn’t know how long the stranger had been watching the girls, who and where he was, and if he had access to previous footage taken inside the house.
For days they waited for a response — any response — from Ring, until finally on December 6th they received a single email confirming that the company had detected “unusual activity” on the LeMays’ account.
“I’m shocked at Ring’s response,” Ashley relayed. “I thought I would have 16 voicemails from them when I got home because it’s become such a big deal and it was such a creepy video. I was frustrated they hadn’t given me an update.”
Finally, after another three long harrowing days, still completely in the dark about what had happened, the family got a Ring employee on the phone. Unfortunately, the company’s response left much to be desired.
Rather than profusely apologizing, or attempting to comfort the shaken family, this employee did quite the opposite. He questioned Ashley about her passwords and asked why she didn’t have two-factor authentication employed.
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“To be honest, it felt like they were trying to place the blame on me. As a mother, I already feel guilty enough that I let this happen to my family…There’s just no need for that,” Ashley told The Washington Post.
Ring did provide an official statement, reading “Recently, we were made aware of an incident where malicious actors obtained some Ring users’ account credentials (e.g., username and password) from a separate, external, non-Ring service and reused them to log in to some Ring accounts.”
The spokesperson continued to emphasize the role that customers need to play in protecting their information, saying, “Unfortunately, when the same username and password is reused on multiple services, it’s possible for bad actors to gain access to many accounts.”
YouTube – Hackman95
Ring has assured the public, including affected families such as the LeMays, that they’ve addressed the issues, blocking such “bad actors.” “Customer trust is important to us and we take the security of our devices seriously,” the company added.
However, for many people who have had their privacy invaded — including the LeMay family — this response is simply not enough. There have been lasting consequences from the disturbing events that occurred in December.
The family’s four daughters are still afraid, often refusing to sleep in their own rooms and having flashbacks to the event. At times it is hard for them to remember that the cameras are no longer there.
The LeMays regretted ever buying the Ring cameras and wished they’d just opted for baby monitors in the beginning. Of course, they knew even those weren’t flawless.
Good Buy Dad
Recently, Tyrone and Caryn Morris of Durban, South Africa, invited several friends over for a dinner party. Their guests were elated to spend some time with the couple’s 15-month-old son, Brody, before his parents put him down for the night.
As the party carried into the night, Brody’s bedtime approached. With all the entertainment downstairs, the last thing he seemed to want to do was go to bed. Putting him down was going to be a battle, but his mother was more than up to the challenge.
As Caryn brought Brody upstairs, Tyrone expected the bedtime process to take some time. But when Caryn hadn’t returned for a long while, he became worried. He checked their baby monitor—and that was when he found his wife lying on their son’s bedroom floor.
She wasn’t injured, though. Apparently, Brody wouldn’t go to sleep. The party downstairs was so distracting that he became fussy and had trouble drifting off. He’d need some serious convincing—and that’s when Caryn had a bright idea.
“He was moaning and wanted to get out the cot. Every time I walked out the room, he would stand up and moan,” Caryn recalled to reporters at Times Live, a South African-based news outlet. Luckily for her, Caryn had a plan.
Caryn noted that, not only would Brody refuse to go to sleep, but he also wouldn’t even close his eyes; a feeling not lost on any parent with young children. But the young mother knew she couldn’t stay upstairs all night.
Needing to get back to the party soon, Caryn set her plan into action. “I decided to sit on the floor next to the cot so he could see me,” she explained of her moves to reporters. “He then just lay there with his eyes a little bit open.”
After sitting on the floor for ages, Caryn decided she needed to lie on her back. “I lay back… he didn’t flinch or move or try and get out the cot,” she said. As her son started to drift off, Caryn realized that leaving without waking him was going to be tough.
What Caryn didn’t know was that, while she was putting her odd plan in motion, Tyrone and their guests were downstairs watching the entire situation unfold on the baby monitor. Obviously, everyone thought it was hilarious…
Meanwhile, upstairs with Brody, Caryn began planning her escape. Knowing that her son was a light sleeper, she decided it was better not to stand. Instead, she began to inch her way out of the room. She knew this was her only chance of getting out with Brody still asleep.
All the while, the baby monitor continued to capture the entire thing. Tyrone and the couple’s guests couldn’t help but laugh as they watched Caryn carefully slide all the way across the floor. But would she make it without waking up her young son?
At that time, Caryn finally made it out of the room and rushed downstairs. When she arrived back to the party, she was surprised to find her husband and the guests laughing hysterically. Not long after that, Tyrone was posting the footage to his Facebook page.
In his post, Tyrone was sure to comment on the professional style of the moves his wife used to get out of the room that night. “The [South African] Army [is] calling me for you to do training on the reverse leopard crawl!” he wrote.
The video had since gone viral, having been viewed upwards of 20 million times. Of all the comments, most came from parents who could easily to relate to the tactical methods Caryn used to ensure that Brody stayed asleep.
The video became so popular that Caryn and Tyrone were asked to appear on a South African radio show to talk about her skillful escape method. Most importantly, reporters wanted to know what it was like to become an overnight sensation…
What Caryn and Tyrone found most surprising about their sudden fame was that other parents seemingly wanted parenting advice from them! All Tyrone could do was joke about their inquiries, stating, “I don’t know if we’re the right people to ask.”
Even experts reached out to see if the young parents needed any help sleep-training Brody. While appreciative, Caryn and Tyrone were reluctant, since what they did seemed to be the norm.
Since the video of Caryn putting Brody to sleep went viral, the Internet has dubbed her “Spider Mom.” It was a name she and her husband fully embraced as they enjoyed their 15 minutes of Internet fame…
The situation convinced Caryn to start blogging using that Spider Mom nickname. Her slogan was, “‘Cos every mom is a superhero in their own way!” and her site offered people the ability to share pictures, videos, and other funny happenings from their lives as parents.
Obviously, Caryn had no idea so many people would be amused by her moves. She was, however, quick to explain that her unusual exit did help her return to her guests that night. “Once I made my exit, that was it. The night was mine!” Bravo, Caryn!
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