Rupert looked over Cassandra’s shoulder at her computer monitor. “No,” he muttered. “That’s impossible. People don’t do things that stupid, and not our competitors. At least not people who got to that level. Do they?”
“I told you so,” Cassandra said. “No one believes a thing I say. Their disaster makes our company look good.” She toggled back to the Retraction Watch website, which featured a large-type headline of ‘Retraction Watch Retracts a Retraction.’
“So every single author claimed the whole clinical study is fake?”
“They claimed the published articles about the drug trial are fake,” Cassandra said. “Each one wrote to New England Journal of Medicine to confess plagiarism from an article written by our own scientists. And that they falsified their data. In effect that means their whole ReCycloPenxax trial is bogus.”
“But ReCycloPenxax is already FDA approved. Will the FDA withdraw its approval?” Rupert asked.
“They might,” Cassandra said. “As soon as Retraction Watch posted an article about this, the company’s stock crashed. FDA was bombarded by thousands of emails demanding that ReCycloPenxax be banned as a wanton endangerment to the public.”
“Good!” said Rupert as he smiled with satisfaction. “Zeptomyseis Pharmaceuticals has been our arch-rival far too long.”
Cassandra glared up at Rupert. “Not good,” she said. “All those emails were written by sock puppets.”
“I thought I knew what a sock puppet was,” Rupert said as he held his hand up, thumb waggling with his words. “I guess it doesn’t mean one of these hands with a sock over it.”
“No. It does not. It’s a fake email source. One person can generate hundreds and claim to be a whole cadre of people. Or be tracked down by the FBI. Now that Retraction Watch retracted their retraction, it could bounce back and hit us.”
“Oh.” Rupert squinted at the monitor. “I’m not quite seeing what happened.”
Cassandra pointed at a paragraph on the monitor. “Why would someone who committed such crimes suddenly confess? And why would every single author confess? There are more than twenty authors.”
“Maybe they feel guilty about claiming their drug is better than ours?” Rupert guessed.
“It turns out the authors called the police and asked what’s with all the newspaper reporters at their front door,” Cassandra said. “They never wrote those so-called confessions. Then they called in the FBI.”
Rupert sucked in his breath. “Don’t tell me some Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals scientist hacked into their account.”
Well, to use a sesquipedalian characterization,” Cassandra said, “these sock puppets or online aliases had an apotropaic function.” 
Rupert looked dazed. “Whuh?”
“Apotropaic, to ward off the demons of our arch-rival Zeptomyseis Pharmaceuticals.” Cassandra turned away from her monitor and looked at Rupert. “Did you guess right? Could it be one of our employees hacked their email addresses?”
[Insert abrupt music signifying a cliffhanger here.]
Who could have hacked the competition’s email accounts?
Will the FBI come tapping on Rupert’s door?
No one has believed anyone named Cassandra in 2500 years! Should she change her name?
 This delicious phrase was adapted from Armin Lange and Esther Eshel, BAR 2013 39(3):58.