Am I right about this? Remote 'hacking' of someone's email?

Sorry this is a bit long - there was a woman who lived locally who all of a sudden upped and left the area about 10 years ago. No one knew she was leaving, and no one knew where she’d gone. Except for one woman - who’d gotten an email from the vanishing woman several months after she’d left.

Cut a longer story short, over a three year period they were emailing each other daily, during that time the vanished woman left her husband and shacked up with another fella, who the other woman thought sounded “a bit dodgy” (possible wife beater). A few years ago the emails suddenly stopped.
The other woman didn’t notice initially because she’d other things going on in her life, and by the time she’d noticed, she’d moved house and gotten a new computer/ISP (I’m not sure if that part is relevant, but I’ll throw it in there).
She decided to try emailing the vanished woman, but couldn’t find her email address anywhere, she searched for emails she’d gotten from her, but couldn’t find anything. At all, not in the sent folder, the inbox folder, the drafts folder, the trash. Nothing.
This was confusing as she’d no recollection of deleting any of the emails she’d gotten or sent to the vanishing woman, but she assumed it was a glitch caused by the new computer/ISP.

Then she remembered she’d created a folder for the woman’s emails, but on checking it was empty - again she can’t understand why it would be empty. She was going to show me (apparently I’m the local expert on emailing) to see if I could find anything, but the folder itself is now gone.

Given that she was convinced the vanishing woman’s new man sounded like trouble, she’s quite worried about the whole situation and I [half joking] said “oh dear gawd maybe he hacked your email account to delete the ‘evidence’ that he was dating her”.

Could someone have done that?
(As an aside, the other woman was so concerned she’s contacted a private investigator who traces “missing persons” (of the vanishing woman variety - who move house and don’t leave a forwarding address) she gave them a ton of information, but apparently they haven’t been able to track her down. The other woman is 99% certain vanishing woman is now in England somewhere, but doesn’t have a postal address or land-line phone number, just a disused Irish mobile number)

Was it a webmail account, or was she using something like Outlook, etc?

Yeah, if she changed ISPs and didn’t archive any of her mail locally, it’s gone. The old ISP might still have it.

If it’s webmail, different story.

Even if she had it locally and changed email programs over time (be it new versions, new programs, or new computers), I bet that a preference was changed automatically along the way and sent mail was deleted after 30 days or 1 year or something like that. Similarly received mailed was nixed at some point. If she has all of her mail from 10 years ago except this woman’s AND all of the mail was put into that folder, then it was not properly transferred.

It has taken quite a bit of doing, including recovering mail from dead hard drives to maintain every last email of mine since 1999. Mail programs do a lot of automatic cleaning and other “helpful” things!


I don’t think so, everything else she’d ever received/sent [private family/friends only address, so she never gets spam or any other junk in the account] was still there, it was only the emails to/from the vanishing woman that had disappeared (which is why I thought someone had hacked the account somehow and deleted them, didn’t that happen to someone with a Yahoo address years and years ago, and the hacker sent out emails to the account holders boss and got him fired?).

To ask a perhaps insensitive question, is there any other evidence this person ever existed? Have you considered that maybe the emails and files were never there in the first place?

Could they? Yes.

But that’s not what happened here. It sounds like someone who doesn’t totally understand exactly how email or her computer works losing some data.

Dementia or mental illness occurred to me too.

Was she getting e-mail on her computer or from web site like gmail or yahoo.

If she was getting e-mail on her computer than some one delete it if it was there . If she use web base mail like gmail or yahoo than it never gone to her computer in the first place.

If it was above not web base mail and got deleted than try recovery software or check the permissions of the folder.

Yes she really existed, she was often considered to be the crazy cat lady, only she had lots of dogs and a pony. I knew her but wasn’t friends with her, quite a few of the “horsey set” around here knew her, as well as the vet I took my kitten [who died] to.

:confused: who do you think has dementia or mental illness?

On her computer, her private email address is from her ISP, she uses something else (hotmail I think) for all other purposes.

But she didn’t delete anything. Would recovery software work in that case?

The person who claims to have had their email hacked to remove all traces that they had been the only person who kept in contact with someone who moved away suddenly and left no forwarding address.

Stranger things have happened, I guess.

She didn’t claim to have had her email hacked - I jokingly suggested that the vanishing woman’s new boyfriend must have hacked the other woman’s computer and deleted all traces of communication between them. Given that A they are the only thing missing from her email account and B she’d been warning the vanishing woman for weeks (or months) that her boyfriend sounded potentially dangerous.

The emails only disappeared after the vanishing woman had stopped emailing her, and after the other woman had started making enquiries as to whether or not anyone else had heard of/from her.

I only wanted to know if it was possible to hack into someone’s computer from another location…?

Anything is possible. Your answers aren’t very clear though - in one post you said she uses webmail; in another, you said (if I understand correctly) that the emails are on her computer. Is it one or the other or both? If she’s using a local email client like Outlook or Thunderbird, is it using POP3 or IMAP?

What I can say is that scenarios where someone hacks a specific person’s account in order to delete one specific thing are rare. Most hacks are opportunistic; the attacker doesn’t know or care who the victim is; they just want something to use as a vehicle for some other purpose.

It’s far more likely to be something mundane like human error, perhaps compounded by faulty memory. I think you’re saying she used webmail provided by her ISP, but switched ISPs at some point. As @DrCube pointed out, the obvious answer is that the emails resided only at her old ISP and were lost when she moved. Perhaps they were older than she thinks; or perhaps she tried to migrate them but missed that one folder.

As tellyworth said, if it’s webmail there’s no hacking into her computer to get them because they were never stored on her computer. A webmail client leaves the emails on the mail host’s server.

I’m terribly sorry I’m not an expert when it comes to emails and other computer/internet related things.

I’ve asked for the thread to be locked.