The Ivorian - L'Ivoriana. Competition "Contraband Pixels & Texts, or... make stories, not phishing"

Written by Matteo Trincas

A story selected in the fourth "round" of the competition "Contraband Pixels & Texts, or... make stories, not phishing". Available in English and Italian languages (original post in the official contest page).

 

The Ivorian (English language)

The story runs that “Italy is in big pain”, this is what Corrado Guzzanti, about 20 years ago, used to say when acting as "Quelo", the false diviner that blamed to be delivering the word of a "New God". "Gott ist tot" this is what Nietzsche used to claim too... as also Guccini within his homonym song. Each epoch had its slump, most likely because of all of people, politics and power. They all do dismiss every wish for a better future.
Football, World Cup 2006: as the Italian national team won, everyone was singing the Seven Nation refrain and forgetting about the pain... by virtue of the National most favourite sport. The “po-po-po” could have been resembled to “people”, “politics” and “power”. Apparently, I was cheering too. Post lauream, somehow the memories were back, although they resembled more to a piece of Lerdammer.
My name is Matteo, and therefore, by antonomasia, I do feel like if I am a gift from God, and this is most likely why there was no suffering for me. There were no other God to venerate, there was just me, and I was my God. I twisted into twisted matters, with “sides” happening to be the “main dishes” and vice versa.
With all of this mess running into my head, a job offer came to my attention, trough a recruiter and in the magic world of the Net. The Job Description concerned driving, babysitting and landscaping, all of this for a wealthy American family living in Savanna, Georgia: Bern, Vanessa and their little child.
My first perplexity was about why they were looking for such a person in Italy?
Bernie supported his explanation, arguing that his wife had Italian origins and that him, in childhood, was raised by Italians maids that used to work for his family.
My second skepticism was about the quality of his English; his emails were not accurate enough, neither their form, nor grammatically.
But I was open to considering any option, with nothing to lose, other than my private information, which I had previously released anyhow while filling my Resume, and that my new friend Bernie, had carefully scrutinised before reaching out to me, and with all of his interest.
Delighted I was finally dreaming because of the attentions that were given to my CV; after all of my previous efforts, reaching out with the many curricula, carefully shaped in all tiny details.
Bernie asked me if I had a Facebook profile, but, at that time, I was one of the few people on this planet that didn't have one. So I decided to set up an account, and that's when we engaged more and more, now using chats.
Our discussions were mainly about the description of my new job.
Again, I did ask specifics of the job offer, and: why me?
My new friend Bernie kept filling my "work ego-gaps" while astonishingly remarking the quality of my credentials, my attitude, and my willingness to happily work also with children.
Finally, we discussed the salary, and I was so overwhelmed by his $5000 monthly proposal.. this was by far more than the standards I was used to see in Italy. If on the one hand my scepticism was shaming, on the other hand, still I needed more validations before taking my plane to relocate oversea.
Through my virtual job-hunting, all the interest delivered to me by my future employer kept filling my ego, while triggering the deepest side of my imagination. I looked at his Facebook profile and, within the filters of my little experience using social networks; it certainly seemed legitimate to me.
After several weeks of long chats, Bern finally stated that I was his final choice. All of my fantasies did start materialising into this new vision, which was both in three dimensions and in high definition.
Finally, came the day when Bern sent me an email with all of the paperwork and forms that I had to fill in order to receive my new US working visa. We just missed one last step; I had to send my passport information.
Gone was my suspicion, particularly thanks to my “undertaken-ego” that, not only led me to forget about all of the previous disillusions but also to wonder why no one had realised before, how I am actually worth, at least, a $5000 monthly salary.
A dark delirium of omnipotence that may be figuratively described as a guy that, after years of sexual abstinence, gets lucky enough to finally meet a good looking woman, both drunk and horny. All of the blood stream moves from the brain and gets diverted into the pelvis, this way magically forgetting about all the pain that he had to go trough, during the long abstinence.
The true is that both that guy and myself, we were intoxicated by the vision of a better life.
After dealing with the bureaucracy to get my passport, I quickly did send a copy of all of my information to my new and cool friend Bern.
Just, before jumping into the first flight, I thought of asking if we could have a quick chat on Skype, in order to get to talk to him and meet his lovely family....
He never replied to my request.
Bern's Facebook profile just disappeared, taking down all of my house of cards, while mirroring my ego, now smaller than ever, and particularly busy clicking on a “page not found”. It was kind of like If the guy that was having sexual abstinence he had just woken up and realised that there was no drunk woman, but in fact, there was a drunk, fat, and smelly man.
About two years after the fact I did receive a call from the Italian “Farnesina”, they wanted to let me know that a passport listing all of my information was found in the Ivory Coast, by the border patrols of Yamoussoukro. The person holding this passport was Alì Bamba - no assonance could have been more appropriate than that with the friend of the forty thieves...
Alì Bamba was charged and convicted by the Interpol under the claim of fraud.
To me, that was like meeting my old friend Bern again.
The bottom line is that both the self-restraint guy and me, we were amused by the vision of a new horizon.

 

 

L'Ivoriana (Italian language)

Si dice che in Italia ci sia grossa crisi; lo sosteneva Corrado Guzzanti vent’anni fa interpretando Quèlo, il falso profeta che recava la parola di un nuovo dio. Dio è’ morto, affermava Nietzsche, riprendeva il concetto anche Guccini nella canzone omonima. Ogni epoca ha avuto la sua crisi, perché popolo, politica e potere rendono vano ogni tentativo di costruire il cosiddetto futuro migliore.
Mondiali di calcio 2006: la vittoria della nazionale Italiana portò tutti a cantare il ritornello di Seven Nation Army dei White Stripes ed a dimenticare la crisi grazie allo sport più popolare. Il “po-po-po” si potrebbe ricollegare a popolo, politica, potere. Ovviamente anch’io esultai. Post laurea la memoria era tornata da un pezzo, ma era più un pezzo di Lerdammer.
Il mio nome è Matteo, quindi per antonomasia mi sento un dono di Dio e perciò per me non c’era grossa crisi, non c’erano altri dei da venerare, c’ero io ed ero io il mio dio. Mi contorcevo in discorsi contorti con i contorni che diventavano centro della questione e viceversa.
Con questa confusione in testa mi apparve una proposta lavorativa tramite un’agenzia interinale trovata nel magico mondo di Internet. L’annuncio riguardava un lavoro come autista, baby-sitter, giardiniere per una famiglia benestante americana che viveva a Savannah in Georgia: Bern, Vanessa e i loro figli piccoli. La mia prima perplessità riguardava il motivo della ricerca di questi profili lavorativi in Italia. Bern motivò la scelta col fatto che sua moglie fosse di origini italiane mentre lui, da bambino, era stato educato da donne italiane che facevano le governanti per la sua famiglia. La seconda perplessità riguardava l’inglese con cui mi scriveva le e-mail, scorretto nella forma e nell’ ortografia.
Ma io ero pronto a valutare tutto, non avendo nulla da perdere se non i miei dati personali che si limitavano a quelli inseriti nel curriculum che il mio nuovo amico Bern aveva esaminato prima di spedirmi la mail dove mostrava interesse. Che qualcuno fosse interessato al mio curriculum scatenava la mia immaginazione, dopo aver spedito infinità di curricula, curati nei dettagli, ricevendo zero risposte.
Bern mi chiese se avessi un profilo su Facebook, ma ero uno dei pochi al mondo a non averlo. Così lo feci e iniziammo la comunicazione chat. I nostri discorsi vertevano sui temi del lavoro che avrei dovuto sostenere. Quindi chiesi i dettagli della proposta lavorativa, i motivi che lo spingevano a scegliermi. Il mio amico Bern riempiva il mio vuoto ego-lavorativo con complimenti sul curriculum, il modo di rispondere e la mia propensione a lavorare anche con i bambini. Infine si parlò del contratto e dello stipendio, abbagliandomi con una cifra sproporzionata per gli standard italiani: 5000 dollari al mese.
La mia diffidenza stava svanendo, anche se in contemporanea desideravo certezze necessarie per un viaggio transoceanico. Nella ricerca telematica del lavoro i segnali di interesse del futuro datore riempiono il vuoto ego-lavorativo scatenando l’immaginazione. Visitai il suo profilo Facebook e senza grande esperienza non mi sembrava un falso.
Dopo varie settimane di chat Bern disse di avermi definitivamente scelto e ogni mia fantasia stava incominciando a prendere forma, tridimensionale ed in alta definizione. Arrivò quindi il giorno in cui Bern mi inviò via e-mail la modulistica per il visto lavorativo negli Stati Uniti d’America. Mancava solo un ultimo passaggio, l’invio dei dati del passaporto. Ormai la diffidenza era sepolta, grazie al mio nuovo ego-lavorativo becchino che non solo aveva scordato tutte le delusioni ma si chiedeva pure come mai prima nessuno avesse capito che io meritassi uno stipendio di 5000 dollari mensili.
Totale delirio di onnipotenza, come un uomo in astinenza da anni che ha la fortuna di trovare una bella donna ubriaca e disponibile, il conseguente spostamento di afflusso sanguigno dal cervello verso le zone periferiche lo porta ad una dimenticanza dell’astinenza passata. La realtà è che sia io che il ragazzo in astinenza eravamo ubriacati dall’immaginazione di una vita migliore.
Superate tutte le fasi per avere il Passaporto, inviai tutti i miei dati fotocopiati al mio amico Bern e prima di partire, in un attimo di sobrietà, gli chiesi di poter fare una chiacchierata con lui e con tutta la famiglia su Skype. Non ebbi mai più risposta.
Il profilo Facebook di Bern sparì. Magicamente tutto il castello crollò ed il mio ego tornò minuscolo ed a pezzi con un click di un link inesistente. Come se il ragazzo in astinenza si fosse svegliato per scoprire che la bella donna ubriaca non esisteva: era un uomo.
Dopo due anni mi chiamò la Farnesina per comunicarmi il ritrovamento di un passaporto falso in Costa d’Avorio, dalla polizia della dogana di Yamoussoukro, che riportava i miei dati personali. Il possessore era Alì Bamba, assonanza perfetta ed a tema con l’amico dei quaranta ladroni; in seguito arrestato dall’Interpol per truffa.
Per me era ritrovare il mio vecchio amico Bern.

 

 


"Contraband Pixels & Texts, or... make stories, not phishing" is a literary-graphic competition on social engineering and phishing, organized by CNIT (Consorzio nazionale interuniversitario per le telecomunicazioni), partner of DOGANA project.
PARTICIPANTS: writers and cartoonists / illustrators.

REGISTRATION: registration is free and open to people residing in EU countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg , Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Hungary), Israel and Switzerland.
RULES: participants (writers and / or illustrators) must submit artworks coherent with the competition theme:

  • Writers must submit a short story (max. 5000 characters including spaces, excluding title) addressing the theme provided by the organization.
  • Illustrators must submit an artwork of up to 1024x768 pixels resolution, representing or summarizing the project theme in a drawing or in a comic strip.

The same author may submit multiple illustrations and short stories.
Artworks can be submitted in Italian, in English and / or in both languages ​​(Italian and English).
Artworks presented in two languages ​​will receive an additional bonus.
Artworks must be shared on the Facebook page dedicated to the competition (https://www.facebook.com/pixelettere), starting from February, 13th, 2017. Last date to submit artworks is June, 10th, 2017. Dates for intermediate selections will be communicated time to time.
Artworks must be shared by the authors on their Facebook profiles, when they are shared on the Facebook page of the project. Short stories and comics not shared on both will be automatically excluded from the competition.
Authors are also encouraged to advertize their artworks, pushing more Facebook shares within their social network, in order to promote the DOGANA initiative and disseminate the message. Facebook likes and re-shares will be evaluated to assign a specific bonus.
Artworks will be selected periodically from the DOGANA Facebook page and added to the finalists group, then shared by the project staff on the official blog of the DOGANA Project (https://www.dogana-project.eu/index.php/social-engineering-blog) and on the official Twitter channel (https://twitter.com/DOGANAProject).
The jury will select the artworks from DOGANA Facebook page by evaluating the artistic quality (qualitative evaluation) and popularity (ie likes and shares). Jury’s judgment is unchallengeable.

THEME OF COMPETITION. In computer security, social engineering refers to psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. Phishing is a type of fraud over the Internet where a hacker tries to trick the victim to provide personal information, financial data or access codes, posing as a trustworthy digital communication entity. The author should submit an artwork addressing this theme, without constraints on literary genre (mainstream, fantastic, sci-fi, comedy, drama etc.).
In each short story, authors must use at least once the word "horizon" and/or “dogana”, at their creative discretion.
On every illustration/comic the official logo of the DOGANA project must be reported, placed and sized at the author’s discretion. The DOGANA logo is available in the header of the project website (https://www.dogana-project.eu).

JURY:

  • Pelagio D'Afro (http://www.pelagiodafro.com), multiple author composed by Giuseppe D'Emilio Arturo Fabra, Roberto Fogliardi and Alessandro Papini, founders of the Italian writing lab Carboneria Letteraria (http://www.carbonerialetteraria.com);
  • Enrico Frumento, Social engineering expert, scientific project coordinator;
  • Matteo Mauri, communication and scientific dissemination expert, CNIT/University of Cagliari, internal member of the DOGANA project staff;
  • Alessandro Morbidelli, writer and architect, member of Carboneria Letteraria, s-traveler of http://www.sdiario.com.

PROCEDURE AND EVALUATION CRITERIA: project process and evaluation will be carried out by the jury, whose verdict will be final and unchallengeable.
The winners will be chosen from the shortlist of finalists selected on the DOGANA project blog.

  • A score from 0 to 10 will be assigned from each member of the jury based on quality, relevance and form of the artwork (short story and / or comic strip), up to a total of 0 to 30 points.
  • 0 to 10 bonus will be awarded to artworks received in both languages ​​(Italian and English) by evaluating the translation effectiveness.
  • 0 to 10 bonus will be awarded for exceptional popularity (likes and shares).

The best short stories and comics will be rewarded by the sponsors and could be collected in a publication (digital and / or paper).

AWARDS:

  • 1st (short story or illustration): 400,00 € and invitation to an official workshop / dissemination event organized by DOGANA project.
  • 2nd (short story): 150,00 €.
  • 2nd (illustration): 150,00 €.

Date and site of the award ceremony will be published on the DOGANA Blog and Twitter profile.

INFO: Organizing secretary, twitter page (https://twitter.com/DOGANAProject), email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
COPYRIGHT: artworks must be unpublished and free of copyright restrictions. Any artwork already published, with copyright constraints or unlawfully plagiarized (even partially) will be immediately excluded from the competition and reported to authorities.
When the artwork is published on the DOGANA Facebook page and submitted to the competition, the DOGANA organization becomes sole owner and acquires the distribution and reproduction rights. The organization is therefore exclusively authorized to use, reproduce, adapt, publish and distribute the works freely. The winning artworks will be used at any time and by any means in order to promote activities and events related to the competition theme.

PRIVACY OF PERSONAL DATA: personal data collected will be treated only for purposes related to the competition. Legal reference is Art. 7 of the Italian D.lgs n.196 / 2003. The privacy policy under Article 13 of D.lgs n.196 / 2003 is available on DOGANA Facebook page.
ACCEPTANCE OF RULES: participation implies the acceptance of all above rules. Furthermore, the author also agrees:

  • To use his existing social profile: each profile used to increase the shares of artworks must exist at the time of publication of this notice and will be verified by the organization staff; any attempt to use false sharing or ad-hoc profiles to trick the popularity evaluation will result in immediate exclusion of the author.
  • To avoid offensive language, and personally respond to any violation of the Italian law. Any violation will result in immediate exclusion of the author.

 

 




This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme, under grant agreement No. 653618