Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pastor Booked for Cyberstalking

Authorities say a DeSoto Parish, Lousiana Baptist preacher has been arrested on three counts of cyber stalking after members of his former congregation accused him of sending threatening e-mails and text messages.

Deputies say 55-year-old Jim Reynolds of Mansfield was freed from the parish jail after posting a bond totaling $3,156.
Cpl. Dusty Herring told The Times that Reynolds, former pastor of Graceway Baptist Church in the Carmel community northeast of Mansfield, was arrested on warrants secured through a justice of the peace.

Herring said Reynolds had been involved in an ongoing controversy after he was released from his pastoring duties about two months ago.
It was not immediately known whether Reynolds has an attorney.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Teen gets probation for email threats to ex-girlfriend


A 14-year-old boy who used MSN to threaten a former girlfriend, a teacher at his school and another student has received 12 months supervised probation.

The teenager sent a computer e-mail message Nov. 14 to the girl to say that when he showed up at school he was going to show her a gun or a knife. He also said that he was on cocaine.

When adults became aware of the threats, they contacted the school, which in turn, contacted Fredericton Police Force, said Crown prosecutor Robert Murray in provincial court Thursday.

A search of the teen's locker did turn up a knife, Murray told Judge Julian Dickson during the sentencing hearing.

As a consequence, he was suspended from attending his middle school.

Defence counsel Sylvain Pelletier said the boy's family got him started in counselling in January after the incident and he has been attending sessions with a counsellor.

He has been receiving educational services and wants to return to school, Pelletier said.

"I wasn't going to do anything. I was just mad at the time," the youth told the judge.

"You can't threaten to kill people. It's just totally unacceptable behaviour."

The judge sentenced the teenager to report to a probation officer during his 12 months of supervised probation, keep the peace and be of good behaviour, attend school and obey the rules and have no contact with any of the three people he threatened. The judge further ordered that he attend anger management sessions.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cyberstalking on the Increase

The lucky ones need only change their e-mail address or return goods they did not order. At worst, however, cyberstalking victims end up with a ruined reputation or a plundered bank account.
scared baby Pictures, Images and Photos

Cyberstalking takes many forms. And the abuse of personal data on the internet to play tricks on people or exert pressure on them is growing, experts say. Cultivation of one's web image and more careful use of personal data can help prevent trouble, however.

A general term used by lawyers and law enforcement authorities for internet offences, cyberstalking is "an artificial concept" that still lacks a precise definition, explained Berlin lawyer Ulrich Schulte am Huelse. Basically, it covers the various ways people are harassed and stalked via the internet.

The risk of victimization rises with the frequency of internet use, experts say.

German police have no statistics on cyberstalking. "It's probably on the increase. We don't keep a record of offences under this heading," said Frank Scheulen, spokesman for North Rhine-Westphalia's State Office of Criminal Investigation, in Dusseldorf.

"As the new media grow and spread, it stands to reason that cyberstalking is growing as well," remarked Professor Harald Dressing, a member of the Mannheim-based Central Institute of Mental Health.

The consequences include personal affronts along with practical problems. "Using other people's names, cyberstalkers buy and sell goods in online and mail-order transactions. They publish harassing homepages and blogs, and commit punishable offenses," Scheulen noted.

He said that sending unwanted e-mails was also common, as was the unauthorized publication or manipulation of photographs or purported statements with suggestive content by the victim.

Most cases of cyberstalking are due to the careless use of personal data on the internet. Victims should notify the police as soon as it occurs, Scheulen said.

"Then the police can trace the perpetrator through the internet service provider and IP address," he added.

If the police have been notified, a warning, cease-and-desist order and damages claim have a good chance of success, noted Schulte am Huelse, who recommended that victims document cyberstalking from the beginning in preparation for legal action.

Careful use of the internet and personal data helps prevent cyberstalking. "Don't reveal personal information such as hobbies or preferences," Scheulen advised. Most importantly, telephone numbers, addresses and names should not be published in chat rooms, he said, because "you don't know who's lurking in the web and to what use the data will be put."

Dressing said that users of social and business networking websites should only allow friends and acquaintances to access their personal profile. After all, he pointed out, no one runs around the centre of town wearing a sign showing their personal data.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Man Beds 1,500 Women Using Facebook

by Catharine Smith

Clive Worth, 60, claims to have met and "bedded" around 1,500 women online.

He says he has connected with 300 of those women using Facebook, a tactic Worth believes has gotten him kicked off of the social networking site -- multiple times.

The British ex-miner told Metro UK that he has had his Facebook profile removed four times. "Facebook don’t give me a reason any more, they just remove me," Worth said. A Facebook spokesperson allegedly countered that Facebook is "not the place to meet people you don’t know."

But now, Worth says he is back on Facebook with a new profile, a new identity, and a new look, posing as a woman named "Carol Peters" and using a photo of model Coralie Robinson to attract women.

Back in 2004, Worth was ousted from DatingDirect.com, where he claimed to have "met" close to 200 women. At the time, he told the BBC he was given the boot because he had failed to commit to any of these dates. A spokesperson for the site would not discuss Worth's case with the BBC, but added that "the only reason we would remove someone is if we received complaints from other members."

Worth also says he has been kicked off dating sites plentyoffish.com and match.com, as well as video-sharing sites break.com and buzz.net. "They [women] get upset and report me, saying I'm just after sex," Worth explained, according to the Sun. In 2004, he told the BBC, "There's lots of dating sites on the internet - I'm going to carry on until I'm 80."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Man Pleads Guilty to Online Dating Scam

A man who lied about being rich and important has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $200,000 from women he met through online dating services.

Westchester County, New York - District Attorney Janet DiFiore says Solomon Jesus Nasser of Ardsley pleaded guilty Thursday to third-degree grand larceny.

DiFiore says Nasser "trolled Internet dating sites" for nearly three years looking for victims.

Among other things, he claimed he'd been a high-level Department of Defense official, an adviser to President George W. Bush, a Navy admiral and a multimillionaire who owned a jet.

He had said he had cash flow problems due to legal issues and asked for loans to cover living expenses.

Nasser faces up to seven years in prison when he's sentenced Oct. 27. He's also being ordered to pay restitution.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Minimize What People Can Find Out About You Online

People Search Engines: They Know Your Dark Secrets … and Tell Anyone
By JR Raphael, PC World
Privacy Pictures, Images and Photos

Social search engines can turn up your Amazon Wish List, photos of your kids, where your kids go to school, your address, your business, where you went to school, your musical tastes, your medical problems, all about your breakups & divorces, your mental health status and much, much more. What else is out there that you don't want everyone to know, and what can you do to protect yourself?

I know things about my lawyer I absolutely should not know. He's 55 years old, listens to the music of the band Creed, and screams like a little girl when riding roller coasters. He also relaxes with New Age spa treatments and is thinking about getting an electronic nose-hair trimmer. And that's just the start.

Now, let me be clear: I've never spent a single moment outside the office with this guy (and for what it's worth, I'd just as soon not be privy to his personal grooming habits). I learned all of these details by tracking his social footprint across the Web -- and he probably has no idea that he has left such a vivid trail behind.

In our age of social sharing, we expect some of our thoughts to be public. But as we slowly put more and more pieces of ourselves online, specialized search engines are making it easier than ever to pull them together into a highly detailed (and potentially invasive) profile of our virtual lives (read "Online Stalking Made Easy").

I'll let you in on a little secret: The picture isn't always pretty. And even if no rap sheet turns up, do you really want the world to know that you look at bad-breath cures online or post awful "Star Trek" fan fiction?

The depths of the Deep Web
You hear a lot of terms bounced around when you talk about this growing breed of search engines. Some services like to be called "social search" utilities, while others prefer the phrase "people search." Many boast of their ability to delve through the "Deep Web" that even Google doesn't touch.

"Even though most people think the size of the Web is basically the Google crawl index, there's actually a lot of information that Google doesn't crawl," says Harrison Tang, founder and CEO of Spokeo -- which, taking a mash-up approach to its identification, describes itself as a "social people search engine" service.

People search engine Spokeo is upfront about what it thinks it can find on anyone.

Spokeo, like its competitors Pipl and CVGadget, is designed to let you dig up information on friends, foes and anyone in between. Spokeo goes a step further than many of the other services, though, by importing your entire e-mail address book.

Then, for a few bucks a month, it continually monitors your contacts and lets you know whenever anyone has done anything new, anywhere online. (The site's home page promises to help you "uncover personal photos, videos and secrets," including "juicy" and "mouth-watering news about friends and co-workers.")

Each individual bit of information may seem insignificant, but the cumulative effect of seeing it assembled in a neatly packaged portfolio is enough to give almost anyone pause.

"Aggregated identity is actually a new type of identity," Tang says, theorizing about why so many people seem to use the word "spooky" when describing his service. "A lot of people know that they have a public MySpace page, a lot of people know that they have a public Twitter album. But, when combined together, it's not one plus one equals two -- you actually create a new identity."

How Spokeo works
Spokeo's system uses your contacts' e-mail addresses to track their activity on a few dozen services, ranging from basic blogs and social networks to a slew of photo- and video-sharing sites. That means the random photos of your kids you shared on Flickr two years ago (or perhaps those less innocent images from your spring-break trip a decade earlier) will pop up right under your name, seconds after someone searches for you.
Less obvious sources such as Amazon Wish Lists, Pandora playlists and movie rating sites fill in the colorful details that you may not have realized were out there at all -- things like (in my lawyer's case) an affinity for New Age jams and nasal maintenance.

I found Mr. Attorney's age on an old MySpace profile and his roller coaster behavior on a personal YouTube video, but Pandora divulged his cravings for Creed and his suggested usages for the "Spa Radio" station he had created. As for the nose-hair trimmer, he can thank his Amazon Wish List for sending that factoid my way.

For sale: Your information

Rapleaf gathers information from the Deep Web -- often posted by you -- and sells it to marketers.

Other services access the same data and then sell the information under the banner of marketing research. One highly visible example is Rapleaf, a company that describes its services as "data and people lookup." Clients pay thousands of dollars to have detailed social profiles of individuals compiled in their own customer databases. As is the case with the data that Spokeo assembles, the information is all publicly available -- Rapleaf just brings it together. "Things that people have posted are out there for anyone to come and see," says Joel Jewitt, Rapleaf's vice president of business development. "As long as you're not going beyond that, that's within the privacy norms today."

Most of Rapleaf's clients, Jewitt says, are simply trying to understand how to use social media more effectively for marketing. An auto manufacturer, for example, might want to know which car models its customers are checking out and discussing on social Internet services. Armed with the company's list of customer e-mail addresses, Rapleaf would crawl the Web and track down the information, person by person.

"It's pretty standard Web spidering," Jewitt says. "We re-create in an automatic way what someone from the general public would be able to do if they were looking."

Electronic exposure

Whether they target businesses or individuals, the services have one thing in common: Unlike the public-record-driven search tools of the past, the new people-tracking utilities build a highly detailed dossier about you solely from information that you yourself published -- a circumstance that may give you a distinct feeling of discomfort.

"What it does is make the ubiquity of the Internet and the sheer openness of the world tangible," says Internet privacy expert Kevin B. McDonald, executive vice president of Alvaka Networks, a network management firm. "It makes the whole concept of the world sharing of information and the 'no-walls' approach that the Internet was designed for very real to people."

The reality can be chilling if the information is going to certain interested individuals: a curious client, a boss big on background checks or an obsessive ex, say. A recent study reported that half of all British Internet users surveyed admitted to having used the Internet to look up information on a former flame. The ease with which someone can arrange to monitor your every electronic move certainly adds a new dimension to the idea of fixation.

"It is a little 'stalkery,'" says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "If the information is distributed, that's actually a form of privacy. When it's gathered up in one place, it creates some new risks."

Rotenberg is no fan of companies that assemble nuggets of personal but public information to turn a profit. "The fact that someone's made something public doesn't mean that someone else can sell it," he contends. "I would say even with affirmative consent, if there's going to be a market for personal data, the user should get some percentage of whatever value the data has."

Taking control
The thing to remember, of course, is that these services aren't doing anything illegal. The information they gather is information that anyone who knew where to look -- and had the time to do it -- could find. So rather than ignoring the king-size file that may have been collected on you, McDonald suggests, you should try to use it as a tool to understand and control your online identity.

"I've come to the point where rather than be driven by the Internet, I intend to drive it to the degree that I can," he says.

"All you can do is learn to live with it," McDonald says. "That's the confines of the world that we live in."

For suggestions on concrete steps you can take to reduce your online exposure, see
"People Search Engines: Slam the Door on What Info They Can Collect."


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Woman Jailed for Sending Threatening Texts -- to Herself

An California woman was sentenced to a year in jail for sending hundreds of threatening text messages — to herself. Prosecutors said Jeanne Mundango Manunga told police her former boyfriend and his sister-in-law were behind the threats.

Manunga was sentenced Friday in Santa Ana Superior Court. She was convicted in May of three felony counts of false imprisonment by fraud or deceit and two misdemeanor counts of making a false police report.

Prosecutors said Manunga started sending the threatening messages after she and her former boyfriend stopped dating in 2008.

Manunga also was placed on three years probation and ordered to pay about $50,000 in restitution.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Minnesota Man Sentenced for Shaming Website

An Eagan man has pleaded guilty to attempting to coerce a man he believed to be a love rival, also admitting to disorderly conduct.

Emmett Salberg, 45, had for years poked fun at local officials as the creator of two websites that had resembled the city of Eagan's website. That had led to such confusion on the public's part, and embarrassment for the city, that the city council agreed last June to buy the two Web domains from him for $2,000.

Then, a year ago, Salberg was charged with two counts of attempted coercion and another count of harassment in a different matter, in which he allegedly created a website to publish insults and images of a man who Salberg believed had an affair with his wife. He allegedly tried to collect $5,000 from the man to pull down the website, according to the charges.

On Wednesday, Salberg pleaded guilty in Dakota County District Court to attempted coercion and another charge that had been added, misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Judge David Knutson sentenced Salberg to six days in jail, with credit for three days served, and four years on probation. He must attend a court-ordered anger-management course and pay restitution, but the amount has yet to be determined.

Salberg also was ordered to shut down the domain in which he had published the derogatory material and to submit to random checks by authorities of his Internet use.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

CyberHarassers in UK and USA Brought to Justice

A television presenter has told how she feared for her life after a viewer bombarded her with abusive emails while she was pregnant.

Alexis Bowater, 39, received a stream of threatening messages including one which read: 'I hope your baby dies'.

The former newsreader said the threats kept her awake at night and made her frightened to be at home alone without her husband.

Alexander Reeve, 24, sent her 26 messages in one five month period, leading Mrs Bowater to constantly fear for her and her children's safety.

Alexis Bowater was harassed by Alexander Reeve throughout her pregnancy.

Speaking after her tormentor admitted sending numerous emails of a violent or sexual nature, Mrs Bowater said: 'I would lie in bed at night thinking, 'Is this person going to kill me? Am I going to die?'
'I would be in an empty house with no husband around, and when you're comforting a toddler in the middle of the night and you hear a creak on the stairs, it's absolutely terrifying.

'I used to go to bed making plans of how I was going to get myself and my children out of the house if someone came in.

'It was terrifying. You wonder about the people driving in a car behind you and people in the street. Nobody knew who he was or what he looked like.'

Mrs Bowater, who presented the evening news on ITV Westcountry, said police became involved when the harassment started in 2006 but their investigations drew a blank.

The daughter of Sir Euan and Lady Bowater of Chagford said:
'Then it started again and they pieced it together.

'I've had people harassing me on and off over the years since I've been working at ITV but never, ever this aggressive and serious.'

She added: 'He was sending anonymous e-mails to work which were pretty aggressive, graphic and threatening. This went on for years.

'This last summer was the worst, the threats and e-mails were escalating. They only just stopped short of threatening to take my life.

'He was threatening very serious damage to me and he claimed to know where I lived.'

Last week Reeve, from Looe, Cornwall, pleaded guilty to five counts of communicating false information with intent and causing fear of violence.

He also admitted twice communicating false information that a bomb was in the ITV studios at Langage Science Park in Plymouth, Devon, and will be sentenced next month.

Plymouth Crown Court heard he sent emails 'of an extremely explicit sexual nature' with some specifically referring to Ms Bowater's pregnancy.

The court heard he was 'fragile' and lived with his parents and his threats were considered 'very real'.

Mrs Bowater, who is now a full time mother and lives in South Devon, said after the hearing: 'I am so pleased that this cowardly man who terrorised me, my family and my unborn children for so many years has been brought to justice.
'He was saying all sorts of unspeakable things that an unspeakable person would do to a woman.

'People ought to realise you can't do this to people. Maybe people go on the internet and think if they send emails or say things it doesn't affect people, but it does.

A police spokesman said: 'This should send out a stark message to those who think, for whatever reason, that they will not be caught if they choose to undertake this kind of reckless activity.'


Suspect Faces Cyberstalking Federal Charges For Indiana Incident

An Ohio man who used phony MySpace (dot) com pages to embarrass a Lake Station couple faces federal cyberstalking charges.

Thomas Slapnicker, 26, was arrested near Cleveland, Ohio for allegedly making threats against a victim in Lake Station and her partner, and using the social networking website MySpace to create Web pages posing as the couple, according to a federal indictment released this week.

The indictment says that after the woman obtained a court order prohibiting Slapnicker from contacting her, he then used MySpace and other sites to embarrass her and make her boyfriend appear to be a racist pedophile.

On one phony page, Slapnicker posted the victims' address and offered to meet strangers there for sex.

On a second page, he portrayed the second victim as a pedophile and a racist, again posting their address and inviting "those who disagreed with these claims to meet (the victim)" at their residence, the indictment states.

Slapnicker also allegedly made a series of threatening phone calls to the victims from Ohio, a violation of a restraining order.

Slapnicker's attorney, Roseann Ivanovich, could not be reached.

Authorities say he has been jailed since being arrested and will be transferred to Indiana for federal court hearings in Hammond.


Saturday, July 03, 2010

Stalking An Old Flame On Facebook? How About Some Federal Charges!

Facebook is not only a site where you can connect with friends and family while taking in a game of FrontierVille, it’s also a complex network that spans the entire world. So what happens when someone stalks you on Facebook, while sending you disturbing messages? In the past the outcome was typically a slap on the wrist, possibly a misdemeanour charge, but that could soon change. The new outcome? Federal Interstate stalking charges if the person that’s stalking you lives in another state.

Law & Order: Criminal Intent star Kathryn Erbe is currently involved in a 2 year stalking case in which deranged fan Charles Nagel not only visited her shooting location in New York, but also harassed her daughter and brother through the popular Facebook service and MySpace. Prosecutors are now determined to have Nagel charged with interstate stalking, a charge that brings with it up to 5-years in prison and a felony count on the guilty person’s record.

While Nagel’s travel to New York city is at the center of the controversy, a guilty verdict with Federal charges attached could give enough precedence for further interstate charges to be filed against Facebook followers who have chosen to stalk their prey online across state lines. The question will become, where is the line drawn between stalking someone from another state in person versus over the internet. Enough news of suicides by harassment and fights caused by text messages have arisen lately that the social impact during the outcome of this case could stem beyond simple misdemeanors charges.

While the case is far from determined, it will be interesting to see how social media plays it’s part in the trial, a guilty verdict in a case dominated by social media mentions could help form social network policing policies for years to come.

What do you think, should Facebook, MySpace and other social networking harassment be tolerated more than traditional stalking or should these crazy online stalkers face harsher penalties as they use modern means to attack their obsessions?