The Boy Who Cried Force-Placed Insurance: American Spring

“This is the future, whether one approves or not, and the failure on the part of governments and media alike to understand, and contend with the rapid change now afoot, ought to remind everyone concerned why it is that this movement is necessary in the first place.” Al Jazeera, reporting on Anonymous, Feb 2011


February 2011 – A month after being labeled a terror suspect by the bank to accomplish any or all of the following:

  • Get me imprisoned X
  • Convince me to let go and move on X
  • Scare me into destroying any documentation I have X
  • Maintain reason to monitor me ­­__

My new life is in full swing. I developed a routine. Every morning I scour the news for specific search terms in order to stay afloat on what’s happening in the mortgage and insurance industries. I contacted everyone involved in anything related to the industry to get my name and story in every ear I could. Unfortunately force-placed insurance, along with the other terms used in the documentation I provided, was completely foreign to even the most reputable financial publications.

Eventually I reach a reporter in Australia for the Wall Street Journal. We talked for a while, and she began to look into the story on the side of her regular assignments. At the same time, I’m hearing more and more about a group of activists I met in college: Anonymous.

It turns out they have their own beef with the bank stemming from the bank’s feud with Wikileaks. In one of many failed attempts at stopping Julian Assange from running his normal day to day life, Bank of America, along with several other financial institutions, blocked payments made to Wikileaks, et al. Anonymous wasn’t pleased about the attack and decided to take action against everyone involved in the coordinated attack with a coordinated attack of their own.

The Anon strategy was simple. While performing the usual hackivist…ummm…hacktivities… (DDoS and Doxing are popular choices) against the websites of the companies involved, a team of hackers broke into security firm HB Gary’s servers, revealing various incriminating materials. One of the documents is a PowerPoint presentation outlining a Wikileaks smear campaign for the bank, one of their many corporate clients. I read the document page to page and realized some of the described tactics were, and will continue to be, used against me. I need to contact Anonymous.


March 2011 – Going with the flow in life is monotonously easy. People do it all the time. If you want to try it, jump in a river. The flow will drag you along at whatever pace it likes. The problem with going with the flow is you can’t stop during a rapid. You’re floating along that river, and the waters start to speed up. You want off the ride, so you begin to swim toward land to progress at your own pace.

But the forces in the water aren’t your friends. They continue moving down their path with or without you. If your needs aren’t in line with the flow, your swimming lesson becomes a deliverance. The swim to shore takes more than most have. When you reach the shore, you have to be willing to crawl through mile after mile of haunted forests. When you finally feel like you’ve used every ounce of energy you have left, you’ll find a man in a mask standing over you offering to help you stand…


After a few late nights searching, I was finally contacted by a legitimate member of Anonymous. We verified each other and began talking/feeling each other out. I soon unraveled for him a very complicated multidirectional tale about finances, mortgages, and how corporations are using them to rip off vehicle and homeowners, as they have for decades. We talked throughout the day for 3 straight days. The Anon tried every way he could think of to get me to change my tale, but I never wavered. I can tell he didn’t really understand what I was telling him. I can’t say I blame him. In my drugged out stupor, I barely made legible sense. I tried to explain it in so many ways to so many people for so long that I was just physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. The few friends I had left were mostly due to my roommate. Everyone told me to give up, as they had for the last 3 months since I lost my job. I was starting to lose faith that I was doing the just and proper thing. Thoughts were starting to creep into my head that I just needed to listen to everyone around me, give up, and find another way to be like the rest of them. This Anon was the first person that came to the defense of what I was doing and believed in me enough to help me when the world turned its collective back on me. One thing he was sure of was that I understood what I was saying, even if no one else did yet.


That weekend, AnonOps was in full swing across social media outlets, promoting a prepared document drop to help fire my first shot in the war against the bank. started gawking at me. Journalists from various well known news sources, both modern and…well…print media, for example, were friending me on Facebook. I also noticed twitter being utilized by a lot of the new school journalists, so I started conversing with them via an old twitter account I created after a conference call with Wendy Day a few years back. By Sunday I was so nervous/excited, I spent the day pacing throughout my house, drinking and smoking heavily. A foreign earthquake was going to dominate the mainstream news, but I was going to earn my place in the books.


The next week was a whirlwind. I read each article printed about my project with Anonymous as they appeared in Google and Bing. I watched news outlets around the world report on the story in a variety of media. Being the story, I once again had a unique seat through it all. I saw who cited what, and how long it took for certain outlets to pick up the story. I spoke to journalists, editors, writers, and activists around the world, some good, others bad. I did what the Anon advised and kept my mouth shut with the press. If they can’t verify the information, they can’t print it. Instead, they attempt to manipulate the story through sensationalism. A writer for the New York Times, for example, told me the bank was planting ideas of my seedy background throughout the media and asked for a comment, to which I replied, “Tell them to show the proof on paper like I have, and I’ll consider giving their ideas some thought.”


Friends and family would call me from around the world letting me know they saw my name somewhere. People who once turned their backs on me temporarily came back with smiles, and I temporarily allowed them, because the journey up until then had been so lonely. I forgave the unforgivable and swallowed my pride, accepting that life just is what it is sometimes. I found better ways of spending my time. I started taking the time to achieve inner peace through exercise, meditation, yoga, a cornucopia of mood and perception enhancing drugs, and rampant alcohol abuse. The Arab Spring was in full effect, and the American Spring was just beginning, with my project being just another link in another chain of events nobody was paying attention to…


Dr. Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. You can find his work in Cracked, High Times, HuffPost, Lifewire, Forbes, Fast Company, and dozens of other places, although much of it is no longer under his name. Dr. Penny loves annoying fake media.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: