The Alessio Vinci case
In 2019, the Italian student Alessio Vinci died under circumstances that are not exactly clear. He left behind two short encrypted (?) texts, which have not yet been solved.
Alessio Vinci was an aerospace engineering student from Ventimiglia, an Italian city near the border with France. He lived with his grandfather. On January 17, 2019, Vinci traveled to Paris without the knowledge of his family, where he first made two wire transfers (700 euros and 1,000 euros). He then took a room at the “Méridien Etoile,” a not-so-cheap hotel near the Port Maillot metro station. From there, he called his grandfather. Although the latter might have been surprised to hear from his grandson in the French capital, nothing out of the ordinary is said to have happened during the conversation.
Around 2 a.m., Vinci left the hotel. What happened after that is not known. The following day, Vinci was found dead at a construction site near the aforementioned subway station. Apparently, he had jumped to his death from a crane. Vinci’s grandfather, however, doubted that it was a voluntary death.
The Vinci cryptograms
This story is interesting to the Cipherbrain blog because the following scanned note was found on Vinci’s computer:
Apparently it is a handwritten note in mirror writing. The mirrored version looks like this (“je sais” is French and means “I know”):
E.T.P. JE SAIS CAM 381A2LCM
More than a year ago I already blogged about the Alessio Vinci case. Blog reader Breaker then alerted me to the fact that Vinci had left a second cryptogram of this kind:
The meaning of these two notes is unknown to my knowledge.
A Mysterious Case
The Alessio Vinci case was brought to my attention by blog reader John Haas at the time. On Reddit the story was discussed in detail. In the meantime there are also a few publications about it, especially in the Italian press. Here is an example from the newspaper “Diritto e Cronaca”:
There are a few more handwritten documents of Alessio Vinci on an Italian website, but they are not encrypted. Vinci is also said to have received a payment of 100,000 euros from a bank in Monaco before his death – a large sum for a student.
A few hypotheses
Blog reader Tobias Schrödel has pointed out that “CAM 381A2LCM” could be the identifier of a webcam. If so, the first letter could be a warning to a person with the initials ETP, saying something like: “I know what you did, because camera 381A2LCM recorded it.” Perhaps this warning is part of an extortion scheme.
There are also various conjectures about Vinci’s death. Some think there is a connection to an Internet phenomenon called the “Blue Whale Challenge,” which Wikipedia describes as follows:
The Blue Whale Challenge […] is an Internet phenomenon that first became known in Russia at the end of 2016 and then in Europe in mid-2017. In the challenge, the participant is given one task a day for fifty days, and the end is supposed to be the suicide of the participant. It was probably initially a hoax, but then became a real phenomenon through various media reports.
Another Internet phenomenon that has been associated with Vinci is that of “incels.” Again quoting Wikipeda:
Incel (portmanteau of involuntary, the English word for ‘involuntary’, and celibate, the English word for ‘celibate’) is the self-designation of an Internet subculture of heterosexual men, originating in the USA, who, according to themselves, involuntarily do not have sexual intercourse and adhere to the ideology of hegemonic masculinity.
I also find the following Reddit comment by the user “Whyevenbotherbeing”, who used to work at a hotel reception at night, interesting:
When young men came to stay by themselves and were not obvious businessmen, they generally were doing drugs, buying/selling drugs, going on a booze bender away from prying eyes or were closet homosexuals who came to have fun anonymously.
Given the sums of money involved, drug trafficking does not sound exactly improbable. That Vinci was homosexual without a family knowing and wanted to meet secretly with a lover in Paris can also be imagined, but that doesn’t explain the said sums of money.
Can any reader say more about this mysterious story or the two encrypted (?) notes?
If you want to add a comment, you need to add it to the German version here.
Further reading: An easy-to-solve criminal cryptogram from the early 20th century