Saturday, December 26, 2009

Charged with Cyberstalking her Mother-in-Law

mother-in-law Pictures, Images and Photos

A Burlington woman was charged Friday with five counts of cyberstalking after she sent out several e-mails accusing her mother-in-law of fraud.

The Alamance County Sheriff’s Department started investigating Kim Ezzell, 31, of Ethans Way, after receiving information through five search warrants that she was allegedly linked to an e-mail sent out multiple times in August and September. Kim Ezzell was placed under $2,500 unsecured bond and will have a first appearance in Alamance County District Court Monday, according to a sheriff’s department news release.

The e-mails Kim Ezzell allegedly sent accused her mother-in-law, Bonnie Ezzell of Haw River, of illegally obtaining benefits from the Alamance County Department of Social Services, the Internal Revenue Service and the Employment Security Commission. It was sent to various people and agencies, including several of Bonnie Ezzell’s family members as well as DSS Director Susan Osborne, Congressman Howard Coble, the Times-News and other media outlets, the Alamance-Burlington School System, the IRS and Gov. Beverly Perdue’s office, according to a search warrant.

After the Times-News received the e-mail in September, it was investigated and published Sept. 6 in a “We Checked It Out” report. The Times-News couldn’t find any agency to confirm that Bonnie Ezzell did anything fraudulent.

Bonnie Ezzell reported to the sheriff’s department on Sept. 11 that an unknown person was sending e-mails to multiple people accusing her of fraud.

The e-mails alleged that Bonnie Ezzell and her daughter Tammy Ezzell were defrauding the IRS; Tammy was renting her children to her mother for the purpose of claiming them as dependents on her tax returns, the e-mail said. Tammy Ezzell allegedly receives benefits from DSS in the form of Medicaid, food stamps and housing.

In addition, the e-mails alleged that Bonnie Ezzell worked at Cindy’s Mini Mart in Haw River and was paid “under the table,” even though she was receiving unemployment benefits. The e-mails were sent multiple times beginning in mid August until about Sept. 22, according to search warrants.

Bonnie Ezzell denied the accusations. She allegedly told authorities that she did work at Cindy’s Mini Mart while receiving unemployment benefits but was reporting those earnings. A DSS investigation found no evidence of fraud, and the IRS doesn’t initiate an investigation unless the loss is $250,000 or greater, according to search warrants.

“None of the allegations levied in the e-mail have been found to have any merit,” the warrants state.

In November, detectives with the sheriff’s department’s crimes and forensic investigations unit obtained search warrants in order to seize Kim Ezzell’s computer at her job at LabCorp on South Spring Street, as well as her home computers. Authorities also seized information from LabCorp about dates and times Kim Ezzell has been at work as well as the company’s policy and procedures regarding use of their computers.

The e-mails were sent from a variety of e-mail addresses but during the investigation, the sheriff’s department was able to link the e-mail addresses to an IP address at LabCorp as well as a Time Warner Cable IP address provided to John Ezzell, who is Kim Ezzell’s husband and Bonnie Ezzell’s son.

Bonnie Ezzell allegedly told authorities that she thought her daughter-in-law was behind the e-mail.

“Bonnie Ezzell states that her daughter-in-law has always been jealous of her, and she suspected that she might have something to do with this,” the search warrants state.

Investigators think that Kim Ezzell allegedly sent the e-mails to “annoy, harass and embarrass Bonnie Ezzell,” according to warrants.

original article here

1 comment:

Michael Roberts Internet Libel Litigation Consultant said...

Anonymous free speech is a wonderful privilege and should be preserved at all costs, however like all good things is subject to abuse. The accessibility and efficiency of anonymous blogging technologies has caused this good thing to be abused in terrible ways.

I personally had my career, business, relationships, and job prospects utterly devastated by a relentless and malicious anonymous blogger. Although I have positively identified the individual, (who has been recently jailed for other charges and is awaiting trial in two states), the legacy of destruction persists. Thankfully I was able to turn adversity into opportunity and now earn an honest living assisting other victims of Internet libel; most people are not so fortunate.

I am passionately committed to improving community awareness of this problem. I like to use the following analogy to help “future victims” of Internet libel understand the anguish and destruction that comes with this 21st Century pandemic:

Imagine if you will a farmer who has had his or her livestock destroyed and barns and fields burned by a vandal; the devastating effect on his or her livelihood does not take Einstein to imagine. Whereas, a white-collar worker, fashion model or other intangible service provider who relies on his or her reputation to find new business, and for that matter keep existing business, can be as utterly destroyed as thoroughly as the farmer described above as a result of an effective internet smear campaign. The difference being that the community and judges can more easily relate to the farmer’s calamity.

An inherent weakness of anonymity is that it has less credibility when considered by intelligent and objective readers. Notwithstanding, there is a new dynamic with this problem of malicious anonymous blogging. Although the assertions and allegations may lack credibility, when it comes to the victim being considered for employment or contract awards, the person carrying out due diligence needs to look at the risks associated with attaching themselves to the victim. Although they may see through the diatribe, the decision maker needs to consider what their customers will think if they are not so sophisticated or objective.

Respectfully submitted, Michael Roberts. (Anonymous blogger bounty hunter)