Oakland Woman Charged with Cyber Stalking
Oakland Woman Charged with Cyber Stalking
In October 2012, a San Rafael resident reported that he had been the victim of on-line harassment which included; harassing emails, texts, annoying phone calls, and fake Twitter and Facebook accounts opened under his name. The web sites, Rip Off Report and Scam Informer were also being used to accuse the victim of sexually deviant behavior, to include rapes and kidnapping.
The harassment began in December 2011 with some annoying emails and Twitter sites being opened under his name. The Twitter sites were used to “Tweet” negative comments about the victim’s family as if he were the one making the statements. The emails began shortly after he ended a relationship with an out-of-state woman. The emails appeared as if they were from a former girlfriend and contained personal information he thought only he and she would have known. Believing this was the case he made a report with the police department in that state. An investigation by them found no evidence that this woman was involved and the IP addresses related to the accounts were returning to California. The case was referred back to the local police and eventually to the NC3TF.
As time went on the harassment became more violent and threatening. The emails and postings spread to include the victim’s ex-wife in San Rafael and a more recent ex-girlfriend in Oakland. Both the ex-wife and the Oakland ex-girlfriend reported the harassment to the NC3TF. The Oakland ex-girlfriend was later identified as the suspect.
As the emails turned from harassing to physically threatening the suspect, still claiming to also be a victim, hired a private investigator to work with her and the real victim to try to identify who was behind the threats.
At this time the suspect changed from using various free email services such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo mail to using anonymous remailers to further mask her identity.
The victim later had 2 Social Network accounts “Hacked” as well and information learned from private messages found in the Social Networks were used to make it appear as though the suspect was still the out of state ex-girlfriend.
Search Warrants related to the suspect email accounts and Rip Off Report postings revealed that many of the accounts were opened using Proxy Servers. Although 2 of the hundreds of IP addresses captured were from a company in the San Jose area. Through an investigation into these IP Addresses we found that on the date and time of the events related to these IP addresses that the suspect (Oakland ex-girlfriend) was an employee of the business and was in the office at the time the on-line activity took place.
The results from search warrants served on the Social Networks accessed by the suspect revealed IP addresses also belonging to the suspect (Oakland ex-girlfriend) as well.
A search warrant for the suspect’s (Oakland ex-girlfriend) apartment was obtained and her computer seized. A search of the computer found that the hard drive had been recently wiped, but the suspect did make statements admitting to some of the threatening emails and to accessing and changing the victim’s on-line accounts.
We later learned that the suspect started the harassment because she was angry with the victim for ending the relationship. She blamed the break up on the out of state ex-girlfriend. She used information she learned from the victim to make it appear that the source of the harassment was actually the out of state ex-girlfriend all the time still contacting the victim to try to get back together.
During one phone call with the victim, he told her about the harassment. The suspect then claimed she too was being harassed and that she believed it was the victim’s out of state ex-girlfriend harassing her too. The victim believed this and they began to work together to solve this. Even to the point of jointly hiring a private investigator. The suspect soon found that this harassment was a way to get attention from the suspect and the more violent the threats she emailed too herself and the victim the more attention she would get from him.
The case was prosecuted by the State’s eCrimes unit and the suspect recently pled guilty to 502 PC and agreed to very strict computer restrictions as part of probation as well as counseling.