Friday, February 26, 2010
Facebook Hijacker Charged with Coercion & Harassment
by Amanda Melillo & Kirsten Fleming
A Queens man took his girlfriend's Facebook account hostage, changed her sexual preference to gay, and demanded cash for her profile's safe return, authorities said yesterday.
But Paul Franco's bizarre manipulations backfired when his stunned gal pal went to cops and had him arrested on Feb. 10 on charges of coercion and harassment, according to a spokeswoman for DA Richard Brown.
"My family convinced me to go to police," said Jessica Zamora-Anderson, a native of Guatemala. "Half the people in my country have heard about this. It's destroyed my life."
Ironically, Franco, 38 and his ex-girlfriend Zamora-Anderson, 30 met on Facebook in November 2008, when he posed as a 29-year-old English teacher from Queens College, where Zamora-Anderson blogged about taking classes, she said.
And the rocky relationship ended more than a year later on Facebook, as Franco's true identity and violent temper began to shine through, she said.
The Internet courtship started to sour in November 2009, when Franco, a musician, threw a phone at Zamora-Anderson's head, causing swelling and bruising, according to court papers.
But she stood by her man, especially after he claimed to have taped her during steamy sex sessions, the complaint says.
On Jan. 30, Franco's car was towed because it was illegally parked near Zamora-Anderson's Kew Gardens apartment.
He allegedly demanded $185 from his girlfriend to get it from the impound lot, or else.
Fearful that Franco would make the sex tape public, she forked over the cash and demanded he never contact her again, Zamora-Anderson said.
But she realized on Feb. 2 that the password to her Facebook account had been changed.
"He changed all of my personal information and said I was interested in women. I got a lot of requests for relationships with women -- and he was the one accepting them," said the housekeeper.
Zamora-Anderson said Franco was also spamming her family and friends and changing her preferences.
She hit the negotiating table two days later, asking what she needed to do to get her password back.
"I got worried that he wasn't going to stop," she said. "He was imitating me on Facebook and everyone believed it was me."
"Pay what you owe," Franco allegedly told her. He demanded an additional $390 for the inconvenience of having his car locked up, cops said.
She then went to police, and charged that he had beaten her throughout the relationship.
Franco did not return a call for comment.