Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Case# #100 Harassment Victim Forced to File LawsuitBy FRED CONTRADA
(MASSACHUSETTS) - Even after hundreds of empty boxes arrived in the mail and she was warned that firecrackers would explode on her lawn, Laurie A. Narey shied away from taking court action.
"It's not something I'm comfortable with," she said. "I'm a private person."
Eventually, however, the harassment was too much. She was getting e-mails and telephone calls blaming her for Phoebe Prince's suicide. Even the boxes she never ordered would be labeled "Phoebe Died" and "Phoebe's Killed." Someone had mistakenly linked her online to Kayla Narey, one of the six former South Hadley High School students charged in connection with Prince. It got to the point that Laurie Narey had to move out of her Lathrop Street house and stay with her father for awhile.
This week, Narey filed a civil suit against Cody M. Nallett of 122 Carew St. in Chicopee, claiming that Nallett initiated the harassment by incorrectly posting Facebook messages saying she was Kayla Narey's mother and that the defendant lived at her house.
"Her mom's laurie ... so when ya'll start calling make sure to say hi," Nallett wrote, according to the suit. In another posting, Nallett allegedly recommended calling Narey after 2 a.m. Nallett spread the word to local television and radio stations, one of which posted the false information on its Web site, Narey said. Even after Narey got through to Nallett on the Internet, Nallett wouldn't back off.
"I told her she had the wrong information," Narey said. "She said everything she did was right. She took no responsibility."
Nallett, who is being sued for libel, injurious falsehood and both negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, could not be reached for comment.
Narey, 47, said Friday she wanted to find another way to solve the problem before going to a lawyer.
"I decided to press charges because this went on month after month," she said. "I was able to make the decision I believe was right. This is about accountability, saying, 'Hey, you can't do this to people.'"
Narey is not the only person who has been flailing in the riptide of emotions resulting from Prince's death. Since the 15-year-old freshman hanged herself on Jan. 14, school officials and the defendants charged in her case have been subject to online humiliation and even death threats.
Laurie Narey said she is a distant relation of Kayla Narey, but Kayla has never lived at her house.
"People feel because I'm related to her I deserve this," she said. "We're talking about an action somebody has taken against me. It has nothing to do with who I'm related to."
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Case# #99 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.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Case# #98 Cyberstalking on the IncreaseThe 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.
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.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Case# #97 Man Beds 1,500 Women Using Facebookby 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."
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Case# #96 Man Pleads Guilty to Online Dating ScamA 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.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Case# #95 Minimize What People Can Find Out About You OnlinePeople Search Engines: They Know Your Dark Secrets … and Tell Anyone
By JR Raphael, PC World
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."
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."
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."
Friday, August 13, 2010
Case# #94 Woman Sentenced 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.