On December 4, a Mississippi family experienced a chilling and horrifying invasion of their privacy when someone used the Ring security camera in their daughters’ bedroom to speak their eight-year-old daughter, say he was Santa Claus, and encourage them to act in destructive ways.
As WMC5 reported, the mother of the four children, Ashley LeMay, who works nights as a medical research scientist, purchased the camera to keep on eye on her three daughters. She told Buzzfeed News, “My 4-year-old has a medical condition. She has a history of seizures and I can’t be there all the time. I got them so when I am at work and my baby got up I could tell her, ‘Hey, I love you, go back to sleep,’ and she wouldn’t know I wasn’t there.”
LeMay had purchased the camera at the suggestion of another mom. She recalled, “She had one and she was like watching her kids on her phone and I was like, ‘Oh, you can actually speak to them. That’s really neat.’” She added, “I did a lot of research on these before I got them. You know, I really felt like it was safe.”
But security footage showed that four days after the purchase, LeMay’s eight-year-old daughter Alyssa heard something coming from her room. Alyssa said, “First, what happened I was in the hallway I thought it was my sister because I hear music. It’s like ‘tiptoe through the window.’ So I come upstairs and I hear some banging noise and I am like ‘Who is that?’”
The recording was “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” by Tiny Tim.
Buzzfeed News reported that a man said, ‘Hello there,” triggering a gasp from Alyssa and her trying to ascertain where the voice was coming from, even picking up her toys and holding them to her ear. The man told Alyssa to call her “mommy” the n-word and demanded that she repeat it to him, cajoling, “Come on, girl, say it with me.”
Alyssa bewildered, said, “Mom? Who is that?
The man responded, “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.”
Alyssa, frightened, repeated, “Who is that?”
The man insisted, “I’m your best friend. Santa Claus.” After Alyssa reacted, “I don’t know who you are,” she fled the room.
LeMay told Buzzfeed News, “I was down the street when my husband messaged me, asking if I had been messing with the girls with the Ring. 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.”
LeMay stated, “They could have watched them sleeping, changing. I mean they could have seen all kinds of things. Honestly, my gut it makes me feel like it’s either somebody who knows us or somebody who is very close by.” LeMay told WMC5 she had not established the two-factor authentication for the Ring account.
She added to USA Today, “My main thing was not knowing who it was, them having my home address and then them trying to gain my daughter’s trust. It almost made me feel like — and maybe I’m exaggerating — but it also made me worried that she could be kidnapped or anything like that.”
LeMay told Buzzfeed, “Tons of thoughts have gone through my head. 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 … The video they could have watched right before they live-streamed was my 2-year-old going upstairs and changing her pants and I don’t know who saw that.”
ABC13 reported that Ring released a statement saying:
Customer trust is important to us and we take the security of our devices seriously. While we are still investigating this issue and are taking appropriate steps to protect our devices based on our investigation, we are able to confirm this incident is in no way related to a breach or compromise of Ring’s security. Due to the fact that customers often use the same username and password for their various accounts and subscriptions, bad actors often re-use credentials stolen or leaked from one service on other services. As a precaution, we highly and openly encourage all Ring users to enable two-factor authentication on their Ring account, add Shared Users (instead of sharing login credentials), use strong passwords and regularly change their passwords.
LeMay told Buzzfeed News that Alyssa is still in shock, wants to know who the intruder was and why he called her a bad word.” None of the girls will sleep in their beds, she said. She concluded, “She told me yesterday that it’s hard for her to remember the camera’s not there. She doesn’t want to be in that room. It’s really alarming to her that we can’t tell her who it was.”