You can find almost anything on the internet. For a fee, you can go to dozens of websites that will run background checks on nearly everyone, and in just a few minutes you can learn the complete history of a stranger you just met. Even if you didn't want to go that route, social media is such a staple in our culture that almost everyone is online, posting updates, photos, and checking in to various places that they visit. It's a predator's dream. Unfortunately the crimes these predators commit are very real and it's a victim's nightmare.
In these cyberstalking cases, the victims involved don't have much in common other than somehow, in their lives, they came across someone who saw an opportunity to exploit their good nature. One woman rejected a man's advances and he made her life miserable. Another went on a few dates with a guy and he spent years following her around the country, and children are always vulnerable because cyberbullying has caused kids around the world to commit suicide.
As technology advances and more social media platforms hit the internet, police try to warn the public about not putting too much information online, but even if you follow all of their precautions, a cyberstalker will do their very best to exercise control over your life with fear and intimidation. The majority of these victims were able to rebuild their lives while those that antagonized them were put to justice, but there were a few who weren't so lucky.
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15 Cassidy Wolf- Hacked At Home
One day former Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf received a strange email from Facebook telling her that there had been some suspicious activity with her account. When she checked her other social media profiles, she realized that they, too, had been taken over by a stranger. There were photos being posted of her partially nude and in compromising situations, and she had no idea who the culprit was. She was only a teenager at the time, so not only was this a violation of her privacy, but that of a child.
Soon, the man responsible began emailing her with outrageous demands. One read:
“Here’s what’s going to happen! Either you do one of the things listed below or I upload these pics … and your dream of being a model will be transformed into an [adult star]. Do one of the following and I will give you back all your accounts and delete the pictures. 1) Send me good quality pics on Snapchat 2) Make me a good quality video 3) Go on skype with me and do what I tell you to do for 5 minutes. If you don’t do those or if you simply ignore this then those pics are going up all over the internet. It’s your choice :)”
Her parents were alerted and they contacted the FBI. An investigation revealed that her computer had been infected with malware and Cassidy's stalker had taken control of her laptop's camera, making everything she did in the privacy of her room visible to his remote location. He had been watching her for over a year, capturing videos and images of her without her knowledge.
The man behind the invasion was Jared James Abrahams, a classmate of Cassidy whom she didn't know personally. The FBI found out that Abrahams had another 150 female victims around the world, the youngest being 14 years old. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
14 Amanda Todd- Bullied To Death
Canadian teenager Amanda Todd was a bright girl who had recently turned 13 and loved to spend time on the internet. A couple of years ago the preteen was talking to strangers in a chat room when someone, a 15-year-old named Todd, messaged her asking to see her breasts. Thinking that no one would know, she quickly flashed the camera for the stranger, unaware that he was recording her every move.
Amanda soon began receiving harassing messages from this person who demanded nude pictures of the young girl. If she didn't comply, he threatened to share the photos to her friends and family whom he found on her Facebook page. The requests never stopped, and Amanda fell into a depression and didn't know what to do. Ashamed of the photos and thinking that there was no way out of her situation, Amanda committed suicide.
With a little digging from her parents, they found out that Amanda was being bullied online from a man she didn't know. Investigators tracked down the culprit who ended up being a 36-year-old pedophile named Aydin Coban who was living in the Netherlands. He had made a habit of sextorting a number of underage girls all over the world. He was charged with extortion, internet luring, criminal harassment, and the possession and distribution of child entertainment by the RCMP in Amanda's case. He faces jailtime in both Canada and the Netherlands, and his Netherlands trial is set to begin in 2017.
13 Adam Savader- Newt Gingrich Defense
By all accounts, Adam Savader had a promising future ahead of him. He was a Republican activist who worked on a number of campaigns, including the 2012 presidential campaign for Newt Gingrich that didn't gain much momentum. After that failure, his lawyers claim that he suffered from mental health problems that caused him to spiral out of control.
In the following years, Savadar would hack into 15 women's files online and find nude photos of them. He would contact them and tell them that he wanted more pictures, and if they refused, he threatened to send the photos to their friends and families. He knew many of the women from his time volunteering in politics or just from around school. He created a fake name to follow and text these women while terrorizing their lives through cyber communication.
Savadar was arrested and he had many people write the judge on his behalf including Gingrich's former campaign manager Michael Krull and Paul Ryan. He was sentenced to 30 months in jail.
12 Roni Jacobson- Harassed For 15 Years
Since she was 12-years-old, journalist Roni Jacobson has had a stalker, a boy who was a few years older who she met at camp. For the last 15 years, she says more than half of her life, a man she calls Danny (not his real name) has been harassing her both on and offline. He would text, call, email, and use social media to contact both Roni and her loved ones. Sometimes he would pretend to be her and contact her friends, employers, and even her friend's employers.
In the beginning the two were friends, but once he began calling every day, the pretween Roni grew tired and ignored him. He didn't stop, so she blocked his number. He popped up on her AOL Instant Messenger demanding to talk to her, and when he wouldn't leave her alone, she blocked him on there, too. This went on through high school, and when she was a sophomore in college, she ran into him waiting for her outside of the library. They went to the cafeteria and had an awkward conversation, and then she went back to ignoring him again. He didn't take the rejection well and threatened to ruin her life. He made multiple accounts on social media and every time Roni blocked one, three more popped up.
Danny's harassment intensified and in 2014 Roni finally contacted the police. They didn't take her seriously because he never threatened to harm her physically. She took her case to the FBI and while they were willing to sit down and talk with her, they cancelled their meeting because they claimed to be too busy. One day Roni's father got a call from a lawyer who claimed to represent Danny. He apologized for Danny's behavior and if his client should reach out to Roni at all, she should contact him immediately. The threatening messages ceased, and Roni can only assume that she wasn't his only victim.
11 Ryan Halligan- Fake Friends
Ryan's parents were always concerned with their son's language, speech, and development of his motor skills. Until the fourth grade, Ryan was placed in certain special education classes, and that made him an easy target for bullies. There was one in particular who gave him a hard time and made school difficult, but after the two had a fight, they seemed to reconcile their differences and even became friends.
Thinking that he had a new confidant, Ryan told this friend a personal story that was quite embarrassing. Instead of being there for Ryan, this child started a rumor around school that Ryan was gay, and the "friend" that Ryan once thought he had was just a wolf in sheep's clothing. The torment continued both online and face to face for years. In summer of 2003, Ryan was on AOL Instant Messenger when a girl started a conversation with him. He thought he was talking to one of the pretty, popular girls at school who liked him, only to find out that she and her friends thought it would be funny to pretend to like Ryan to get him to tell them secret embarrassing things about himself. Later that year, Ryan committed suicide by hanging himself in his parent's bathroom.
No one was held responsible in Ryan's death.
10 Alexis Moore - Lost Her Identity
For Alexis Moore, everything was fine until something strange went on while she was trying to pump gas at her location station. The machine wouldn't take her credit card and when she went inside to the ATM, her bank accounts showed she had insufficient funds. "When I finally got home and checked into it, I realized that someone had closed all my credit cards, transferred money out of my bank account, and all the credit card companies and banks were insisting I had done it," she said.
Her good credit went down the drain, she lost money, she claims to have lost the ability to work, and even if she wanted to move, she couldn't. Soon she realized who was behind it all: her ex. "I had a worst-case scenario cyberstalker — a man who knew all my passwords, addresses, birth date, mother's maiden name – all the personal stuff that makes up our technological identity," she said. "He was determined to use all of his knowledge against me and became the worst kind of cyberstalker – persistent, well-informed and malicious."
This went on for three years and, at times, Alexis even contemplated suicide. Although she was able to slowly rebuild her life, she's dedicated herself to making sure that no other woman has to endure the losses that she did.
9 Carla Franklin- Traveling Stalker
In 2005, after relocating to Philadelphia from Texas, Carla Franklin met a man named Shon Moss at a networking mixer. She went on a few dates with him but immediately noticed red flags, mainly anger and jealousy issues. After he probed her about whether or not she was seeing other men, she decided to cut off contact and stop seeing him. They'd only been out a handful of times, so she didn't think it was a big deal.
By the Spring of 2006 Franklin was relocating once again, this time to New York City for a job. She sent Moss a polite goodbye email, and the response was less than kind. She started getting sporadic texts from Moss about random things he was doing during his day or strange quote and sayings. She ignored him until he showed up at a business mixer she attended in New York. He claimed to have moved there for a job and apologized for his previous behavior.
Then the calls, texts, and emails wouldn't cease. Franklin told him she wasn't interested in any sort of relationship with him. The harassment didn't stop, but he let her know that he was engaged. However, that didn't stop him from showing up at events she attended where he just stared at her. He sent sexually explicit texts to her collegues. He created YouTube montage videos using her photos, writing the word "whore" across them. She got a lawyer, contacted the FBI, and sued Moss for stalking, harassment, criminal impersonation, and defamation. His lawyer claims her lawsuit has no merit.
8 Joe Good- The Crazed Ex
When 51-year-old Joe Good started dating Tawny Blazejowksi, their relationship was just as normal as any other. They enjoyed each other's company and were hitting it off. All seemed well.
Three years into the relationship, Blazejowksi began to change right before Good's eyes. He was planning on breaking up with her, but right before he did, he found that his passwords were changed. Blazejowksi was behind the hack, even sending his boss pornographic images. Good was fired from a job that he held for 24 years. His relationship with Blazejowksi was over.
Her crazed behavior continued and further threatened his livelihood. Blazejowksi reported her ex to the police as a pedophile. She tried to have authorities take away his children. She also threatened his friends, family, colleagues, and new girlfriend, Mariela Murphy. She messaged Murphy that if she didn't leave Good, she would murder both her and her teenage daughter with an attached photo of a corpse. Good and Murphy had enough and contacted authorities. When they searched Blazejowksi's home, there was overwhelming evidence of her cyberstalking. She was tried and sentenced to nine years in jail.
7 Joelle Ligon - Tormented By An Ex
They met when she was 15-years-old back in 1984. Joelle Ligon and her boyfriend, James Murphy, would go on to date for six more years before she broke up with him. She moved to Virginia, finished college, met someone else, and got married.
It surprised her when in 1998 she started getting strange, eerie emails that said things such as, "I know your mother died when you were 14. I know where you went to high school." A year after that she began receiving emails with adult entertainment pictures. This would continue for another six years, always from various anonymous emails.
Ligon didn't know that this person, who she later found out was her ex-boyfriend, was giving out both her home and work phone numbers. He was going into chat rooms pretending to be her, telling strangers that she wanted sex. He emailed her co-workers as her with links to adult sites. The suffering seemed like it would never end.
After a 15-month investigation, police had enough to charge Murphy with 26 felony counts of internet harassment. He pleaded guilty to two counts under a plea agreement and was sentenced to five years probation.
6 Jason White- The Art Stalker
In an effort to extort $300,000, art dealer Jason White cyberstalked an art publisher, former employer, and his supervisor. He created fake websites in the name of his publisher that were defamatory and would send threatening texts to all of his victims as well. In one instance, he was able to get photos of his former employer's child and told her that "it will be very unfortunate if something was to happen to him."
He told his fellow art world victims that if they didn't give him the money, he would keep all of the derogatory websites up to further hurt their reputations. Their loved ones and colleagues were contacted as well, making life difficult. The three reported the abuse to authorities, and White was arrested.
The Temecula, California man was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison.
5 Gary Dellapenta- Sent Men To Rape A Woman
A woman was frightened and confused because random men would show up at her home in the middle of the night. Out of the six men who showed up, some would knock, but others would bang on her door saying they were ready to rape her. What she didn't know was that someone created ads on the internet pretending to be her, saying that she had a secret fantasy for a strange man to creep into her house and sexually violate her. She finally had to make a sign that she placed on her door, alerting any interested parties that the ads were fake and they needed to leave her property. New ads were created, saying the notes were a part of the game.
The woman's father was concerned so he pretended to be interested and answered one of the ads. He was able to trace where they were coming from and they were traced back to a man named Gary Dellapenta. The woman he was harassing had rejected his advances in the past and he didn't take it lightly. He posted vile things about her online, shared her address with the public, and told men how to disable her security system to play into her false rape fantasy. He also gave out her phone number and told people that she liked to receive vulgar messages, causing her phone to ring off the hook.
Dellapenta pleaded guilty of solicitation of sexual assault and stalking and was sentenced to six years in prison.
4 Kristen Pratt- The Deranged Classmate
Patrick Macchione was a college classmate of Kristen Pratt, and when he first messaged her on Facebook, she didn't think it was a cause for concern. Then came the barrage of deranged messages through social media where Macchione threatened to kill Pratt. Once, in a five hour period, he called her 40 times. He posted 27 videos to YouTube ranting and raving into the camera, at times talking to Bell in an intimidating manner.
He claims that he wanted to be with her and have a baby with her, but because he only harassed her online and not in person, it shouldn't be considered stalking. A judge and a jury disagreed, and Macchione was sentenced to four years in jail. He served half of that and was released. His probation ended in 2015, but he is forbidden from having any contact with Pratt. She still lives in fear of her life and looks over her shoulder daily.
3 Tyler Clementi- Killed Himself Because Of His Roommate
Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi had recently come out as gay to his family, and while they initially struggled with the news, his parents let him know that they loved and supported him no matter what his sexuality was. He enrolled in school and was looking forward to no longer having to live his life in secret, but his college roommate Dharun Ravi, made sure that Clementi would have a difficult journey.
Without Clementi's consent, Ravi rigged their room with webcams to spy on Clementi. They captured video of Clementi kissing a man and posted the video on Twitter. Ravi then told friends that he planned on obtaining more private footage of Clementi with the guy and created an account specifically for the event. It never happened.
Clementi contacted university officials and requested to be placed in a single room because of the harassment and violation. Before that could happen, he posted one last update to Facebook that read, "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry." Then he committed suicide off the George Washington Bridge.
In October of 2016, Ravi pleaded guilty to one count of attempted invasion of privacy, but isn't going to be held responsible for Clementi's suicide.
2 Three People Charged With Cyberstalking Murder
Christine Belford was in a custody battle with her estranged husband David Matusiewicz after he abducted their three children and took them overseas for 19 months. He was sentenced to 48 months in jail and while there, he, his sister Amy Gonzalez, and his mother Lenore were accused of harassing Belford online. They made various posts on websites and social media where they threatened and intimidated Belford until finally Matusiewicz's father, Thomas, shot and killed Belford and her friend Laura Mulford in a Delaware courthouse lobby. They had jut left a custody hearing.
Gunfire was exchanged with police before Thomas turned the gun on himself. Matusiewicz, Gonzalez, and their mother were taken to trial over the cyberstalking and plot to murder Belford and each was sentenced to life in prison. The three claimed they never knew about Thomas' plan to shoot Belford.
1 James Allen- The Master Manipulator
Detroit resident James Allen was described as a "master manipulator" by prosecutors who say that he used the internet to harass girls between the ages of 14 to 18. He wasn't some sort of expert hacker who used his knowledge to infiltrate the lives of his victims. He made a fake website in 2012 and through it obtained personal information from the 18 girls, all of whom were from the Buffalo area of New York state.
He lured them in by getting them to Skype with him, claiming that he had in his possession nude photos of each of the girls. He threatened to release them if they didn't video chat and then would try to convince them to show themselves on camera. The police were tipped off about Allen and when the FBI cracked his computer, there were a number of screenshots from his victims.
The 36-year-old was charged with child entertainment and cyber stalking and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
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