Sunday, April 22, 2007


Con Man identified in Simpson County
by Clara Aucoin

Joseph A. Cafasso was not prepared for the scrutiny he faced in Mendenhall, Mississippi. Leave it to a small town sheriff and a smaller town mayor to get the drop on a national conman.

Joseph "Jay" A. Cafasso, is a man of multiple talents, the foremost it seems, is to run scams on unknowing victims. These are not ignorant people, they include Fox News, Columbia University, the Dallas Morning News, the New York Magazine, and many others.

Cafasso zooms into town with accolades and education dripping off him. His game is to talk about his background, and his expertise, and volunteer to help people in their endeavors.

He worked for Fox News until they found out he was a phony. Locally, Cafasso worked for the Mendenhall Ministries as a Development Director, until he was found out, then he moved on to try and "help" Mendenhall.

The con man claims he is ex-CIA, secret agent, a Knight of Malta, claims to be traveling on a Vatican passport, and claims a vast array of illnesses and injuries.

If the name Joseph Cafasso or Jay Cafasso is searched via Google or Yahoo, voluminous text, pictures, and stories pop up.The photographs reveal all the stories are about the same person, although Cafasso has been known to change his appearance drastically. He lost 50 pounds, ditched his glasses, and shaved off a mustache and beard to alter his appearance. Now, he has something like, "the Indiana Jones look,"
going on said Mendenhall Mayor Randall Neely.

While in Simpson County, without knowing he was being thoroughly investigated by local law enforcement, Cafasso had the backbone to meet with Mayor Neely, the Sheriff, representatives for a senator, and Simpson Count Emergency Services Director. Neely said, "We knew he was a fake, we just wanted to see where he was going."

Evidently he was going somewhere because now he has disappeared from Mendenhall.
Neely said the last time he had seen Cafasso the con man had said he was going to St. Dominic's to have his gall bladder removed.

That behavior too was part of his typical pattern. Most of the reports have indicated that when things began to go "bad" for the con man, he would "suffer" some illness or injury that required medical treatment and simply disappear.

Although local law enforcement knew Cafasso was a fake, they also could not find that he had broken any laws. Zealous work on local, state, and national crime computers have also not provided any outstanding warrants. Although Cafasso leaves a swath of stolen identifications and credit card theft, it appears he did none of that
while in Simpson County.

However, the man had a plethora of approximately 15 aliases. It is suspected there are warrants against him under other names. Anyone with information regarding this man is urged to contact the Simpson County Sheriff Kenneth Lewis, at 601-847-2921, or Mendenhall Police Investigator Bruce Barlow at 601-847-2641.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

When Dating Legislation Misses The Point

A recent decision by a US District Court judge has upheld the legality of a law that prohibits Americans from speaking with foreign individuals through online dating sites. The law, originally called the International Matchmaker Regulation Act, is now called the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act and was attached to the Violence Against Women Act, an act that any legislator would have had a tough time voting against. The act in question might have had a good intention at one time, but with such vague wording has missed the point entirely on what was intended to be accomplished.

The law was presumably intended to stop online dating sites that center on hooking up single American men with foreign women as women's groups advocated that foreign women brought in under these situations suffer a higher rate of abuse and mistreatment. While that is a honorable goal, the wording of the law makes it a) difficult to enforce and b) open to interpretation.

The law does state that it targets only those online matchmaking agencies that market themselves as a mail order bride site, but who draws that line? Match.com might not be affected, but those that offer traditional dating or matchmaking services and foreign women as well might be in the grey area. Additionally, there are a number of online daters out there that have had successful relationships through such sites. Does making the practice illegal based solely on some bad apples make sense for the American public as a whole?

The basis of the law is a good one and perhaps there are measures that are more appropriate and less presumptuous. However, such a broad stroke needlessly affects more people than it was intended to target, something every measure pushed through Congress should endeavor to avoid.



Saturday, April 07, 2007

Technology and the Fast Food of Sex

Ingenious 'blue' minds have found a way to exploit a most innocuous technology for sexual purposes.

By Alon van Dam

He checks his Rolex irritably as he bustles along through London's Gatwick airport. Clad in an Armani suit, his attache case swinging with every step as he busily sends an SMS message from his mobile phone, bystanders don't give him a second glance: just another yuppie businessman arranging a meeting. Except that Richard's meeting won't take place in a boardroom with executives, but in a public lavatory with a woman he's never met before and will never meet again after their "business" is concluded. For Richard is into toothing, a new sexual trend enabled by mobile phone technology.

Toothing is a form of anonymous sex with strangers that relies on Bluetooth technology, from which it also derives its name. Bluetooth is a system devised by Ericsson that provides a way for devices like computers, cameras, printers and mobile phones to communicate and convey information over short distances. Originally intended for wireless transmission of files between these devices, ingenious "blue" minds have found a way to exploit even this most innocuous of technologies for sexual uses.

The roots of toothing lay in another trend that has been gripping Britain, known as dogging, which involves having sex at a public place, like a park, with the specific intention of being watched. Dogging has become so popular recently that the BBC estimates some 60 percent of Britain's parks see regular dogging action.

Toothing was created by British journalists Ste Curran and Simon Byron. Amused and baffled by the dogging craze, they decided to invent an imaginary trend with a silly name and see if people would believe it. They wrote a fictitious article about a guy called "Jon" who supposedly messaged a random girl by accident while commuting. The flirtatious contact continued until, a couple of days later, the girl suggested squeezing into the local restroom for a quickie - or so the article claimed.

Curran and Byron proceeded to register a forum under the name "Toothy Toothing" where they and their friends enjoyed countless hours of churning out articles that were supposedly written by toothers. The pair of pranksters then sent off the articles to an Internet-based news service and played the waiting game. Byron remembers: "Our point at the time was to highlight how journalists are happy to believe something is true without necessarily checking the facts."

And believe it they did. Within days, the hoax had reached a far larger audience than they had ever expected. "We kept a record at the start of where we were mentioned, but there were soon too many to record in full." They agreed to do an interview with the London-based daily Telegraph and "many papers read that and followed up, broadsheet and tabloid, regional, national, all over the planet. One of us made an appearance on Radio 5 Live, and had a Conservative MP declare his interest in toothing as a way of meeting women. We received a whole host of offers to license official toothing merchandise: sex lines, Web pages, even mobile-phone software."

Saucy invites
Though technologically possible, Curran and Byron never thought their hoax would turn into something so real. "It's like going into a crowded nightclub, throwing a brick at the dance floor with a love letter attached, and hoping that the person it hits will agree to sleep with you." Curran and Byron reassured the world that toothing was nothing more than a practical joke gone way too far. Curran's last words on the matter were:
"Despite all the made-up ramblings on Web sites across the globe, despite the forums and the fan-fiction, the tabloids and the broadsheets, the perverts and the simply curious, no one has ever ever, ever toothed."
How wrong he was. How very wrong. Within months of the original post, hundreds of toothing forums sprang up like mushrooms throughout Europe, Southeast Asia and America. They were soon populated by all sorts of people seeking out the best locations in their area to tooth, sharing their adventure stories and posting saucy invitations, such as Mister LongDongShlong wants to meet King's Cross Station, 7th of October at 9 A.M. P.S. Women only.

Now, this so-called Mister LongDongShlong may be a broad-shouldered Johnny Depp look-alike or he could be a greasy, fat, 50-year-old pervert, who can tell? Need to know? Hop on a flight to London on the 7th and find out for yourself. Curious? For anyone who owns a mobile phone with Bluetooth-capabilities an exciting sex-adventure need only be a few presses of the button away. When activated, they have the ability to sense other Bluetooth-phones in a 40-meter radius.

One simply assumes a pseudonym and sends the message "Toothing?" - the most common opening move. Anyone interested in a quick sexual escapade will reply to arrange a time and place - usually very soon in a nearby bathroom or other semi-secluded space. "If the shoe fits, wear it right now. Why waste time?" is Richard's opinion. There's a very high level of privacy, as the messages are sent via Bluetooth technology without as much as disclosing the author's phone number.
"It's simple, doesn't take a lot of guts and rejection is nowhere as personal. Of course it's popular," says Shanna Petersen, a sexologist who strongly rejects skeptics who still claim that no one has ever toothed. Having spoken to many toothers herself, she explains: "Show people a new way through which they have a chance to have more sex and they'll do it. No matter how much effort goes into it or how meager the results." When asked about a perceived gender bias, she answered: "One would think toothing would appeal only to men, but plenty of curious women are trying it out. A lot more than you'd think."
Albert Benschop, a sociologist with the University of Amsterdam, researched the trend. According to him, toothing is the next logical step in dating. "The old game is just adapting to new times. It seems that being single and messing around is 'in.' Pair that with our faster lives, our shortened attention span and our technology and you arrive at toothing."
He explains that toothing is "just like picking up people in bars but without the silly time-consuming conventions of decorum that people are obliged to keep to these days. This is much more direct. You both know what you want." He also sees it serving an important purpose: "People can use it to satisfy their need for intimacy. As long as it helps people out of loneliness and gives them more to enjoy in life, I think it's a very good development."
Embarrassing moments
There's a high level of anonymity to toothing, but the flipside to all this privacy is that you have no way of knowing who's responding to your messages. However, according to Laura, a 26-year-old interior decorator, that's the point: "That's what makes it exciting - going to a bathroom stall or supply closet and waiting for someone who could be anyone, having uninhibited sex with them knowing you'll never see them again."

According to Paul, a 30-year-old executive for a Forbes 500 firm, the thrill lies in the sexual liberty toothing gives you. "You can finally be yourself and act out your wildest sexual fantasies without regard to anyone else's feelings. You don't have to live up to any standards." He does agree, though, that "the fact that it's with complete strangers and so different every time is a nice bonus, of course."
But it's not just the sex itself that's appealing. "For many people, the chase is where the thrill is. An important part of the game's charm lies in locating the source of a message: who in your direct vicinity just came on to you digitally?" says an Italian toother who prefers to remain anonymous. Seeing as the reach on Bluetooth is very limited, the person has to be close by. The opportunity for a tryst is around the corner, behind a tree or across the street. Toothers are generally quite young enough to have the level of technological savvy to operate a Bluetooth-phone, -but that doesn't usually narrow the field quite enough. And what if you, in anonymity, message someone you know?
"That actually happened to me once," says Paul, a blush rising on his cheeks. "It's hard to believe but one day I made an appointment in a lavatory near my office only to find that the woman I was meeting was one of the cleaning ladies. I beat a hasty retreat and pretended like it was a coincidence, but I haven't been able to look at her in quite the same way since." Paul therefore strongly advises any wannabe toothers to try it out somewhere far from home and work to avoid unpleasant surprises.

What are good places to go toothing, then? Well, the obvious answer is any place that is teeming with people that will increase the chances of a fellow toother being on the prowl. Public transportation seems to be the center of activity: airports, train stations, metro lines. Besides that, malls and busy shopping streets see a lot of action, too. "Where there are people, there are horny people," sexologist Petersen reminds us.

Because the phenomenon happens in crowded areas, it stands to reason that only the bigger cities have thriving toothing communities. "It's very hot in Munich, San Francisco, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, New York, Florence, Delhi. All over the world!" says forum Web master Mischa Schreuder. "But London and Rome are toothers' heaven. Try it out in the London Underground and I promise you won't be disappointed."

Meanwhile, the original creators - who still get up to much mischief, as is evidenced on their blog at thetriforce.com - are still having a hard time believing their little prank spawned such a massive sensation. They thought of it when the technology was just nascent and hard to use. In reflection, Byron says: "As we were doing toothing, we had a few offers from people wanting to develop software, which would make it practical. We knew it would be just a matter of time before someone did. We should have become rich from it. But we were happy to do it for fun." And many people around the world are thankful for it.

People call toothing a fad and say that its practitioners are nothing but immoral perverts. The toothers themselves don't care much. They watch benignly as more and more people of all ages, genders, races, creeds and nationalities join their community.

"It's the fast food of sex," says Richard the yuppie. "Cheap and fast, without making too much effort." Then he checks his phone again and smiles. "Sorry, got to go."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Americans Must Have Criminal Checks Before Contacting Foreigners on Internet

A new federal law that makes it a crime for Americans to communicate with foreigners on dating websites without criminal background checks is upheld by a federal judge.

Washington, DC -- On March 26, 2007, a new federal law restricting Americans from contacting foreigners through internet dating sites was upheld by a federal court after a Constitutional challenge by an internet dating company. In European Connections v. Alberto Gonzales, 1:06-CV-0426-CC, Judge Clarence Cooper of the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia dismissed a lawsuit by European Connections which claimed that the law violated the right to freedom of speech contained in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The plaintiff had failed to challenge the law based on the First Amendment right to assemble.

According to Tristan Laurent, President of the advocacy group Online Dating Rights, "We will now have to take legal action from the point of view of the users of online dating sites. The whole idea that it is now a crime for American men to send emails to women in other countries is so preposterous it is beyond belief. The judge's ruling that there is no Constitutional violation in forcing Americans to divulge all sorts of highly personal information to a complete stranger or scammer abroad before the American can even say hello or know to whom he is writing is only exceeded in foolishness by Congress in making the law."

The law was originally called the International Matchmaker Regulation Act, but it did not pass Congress in previous years by that name and it was later named the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) before it passed on December 17th, 2005. The law, which was attached to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was apparently not debated in public and Mr. Laurent says that no dating company or dating site user was invited to a closed-door Senate hearing in July 2004.

IMBRA makes it a felony for an internet dating company, that primarily focuses on introducing Americans to foreigners, to allow any American to communicate with any person of foreign nationality without first subjecting that American to a criminal background check, a sex offender check and without first having the American certify any previous convictions or arrests, any previous marriages or divorces any children and all states of residence since 18. Match.com is excluded from the law, and the judge found that this exception posed no challenge to the Fifth Amendment equal protection clause because American women are supposedly not abused by American men that they meet on the internet, and thus are not in need of protection.

The law was sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-KS and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA and was championed by key women's groups. The law was passed after these groups made claims that foreign women who marry American men are subjected to higher rates of abuse than are American women. However, the only study that addresses this issue was done by the INS in 1999 and it found that the rate of abuse in such international marriages is one-seventh the rate of abuse in domestic marriages. See http://www.online-dating-rights.com/index.php?ind=downloads&op=entry_view&iden=24

Online Dating Rights Director of Public Relations Jim Peterson said of the judge's ruling: "It is a sad day for freedom in our country when an American has to have a criminal background check before he can say 'Hello" to a foreigner through the internet." He also said that "America is the only country in the world that regulates communication between two consenting adults seeking to communicate via internet, with the possible exceptions of China and North Korea. Without new email technology, IMBRA could not have been even feasible because people generally sent paper letters to each other's home addresses just a few years ago. Is it right for the US government to make a form of communication illegal when it was the only form of communication possible just a few years ago?"

The law has been attacked in a bipartisan fashion by prominent feminist Wendy McElroy HERE and by men's rights supporter David Usher HERE and by immigration attorney Gary Bala HERE

Mr. Laurent says that his organization has undertaken a fundraising drive to raise $100,000 for a class-action suit against the government on behalf of all the men who can no longer contact women in Canada, England, Germany, Russia and the Philippines due to this law. Contributors are asked to visit the website at www.online-dating-rights.com.

Both Mr. Laurent and Mr. Peterson are available for media interviews but since both have to work for a living and do not receive federal taxpayer funding, arrangements for telephone interviews should be made by email if possible. Contact Mr. Laurent at onlinedatingrights @ yahoo.com and Mr. Peterson at veterans @ veteransabroad.com