You can’t firewall stupid (criminals caught via the internet)
I love stories about stupid criminals. My friend Mike emailed me about a story that occurred recently: Alfred Hightower was wanted in Howard County, Indiana on charges of dealing a controlled substance. He didn’t want to do time, so he hightailed it up to Canada. The U.S. Marshals already had an agreement to extradite him, but now they had to find him. Knowing he was a World of Warcraft fan, the investigators sent a subpoena to Blizzard Entertainment requesting information. Blizzard sent back an information pack that included an IP address pinpointing Hightower’s location. He is currently going through the extradition process.
I wondered how many other people have gone down in ways similar to this. He isn’t the first person to throw caution to the wind on the internet. Many folks have slipped up on Facebook, MySpace, and other sites. Here is a list to remind you that even stupid criminals like to stay socially connected, and thanks again to Mike for the heads up.
A 49-year-old woman was arrested in Michigan after posting a help wanted ad on Craigslist. The ad was for a “freelance job” that would pay $5,000. It didn’t say much else, but Ann Marie was very open to giving details to a few people who called to inquire, responding in emails that she needed “the eradication of a female in Oroville, CA.” When people would call, thinking there was a miscommunication or that it was a joke, she would tell them she needed a “silent assassin”. When one asked what she meant, she replied “Duh, I want you to kill so-an-so”
You see, she had met a man while completing an online college course. It started with chats, then phone calls, then a no-holds-barred sexfest in Reno. It was after this that she decided her lover’s wife had to go. A slightly disturbed respondent called police and turned her in.
Crime: criminal vehicular homicide
In 2006, a Minnesota teenager went to a party, downed a bunch of Vodka, and proceeded to drive some of her friends around. With a BAC of 0.12, she failed to make a turn and slammed into a tree. Two boys in the car were killed. After the accident, she refused to talk to police and entered a plea of not guilty in the arraignment. Around this time, she took to her MySpace page and decided to lash out at those who blamed her for the accident.
“I just want to let everyone know August 19 2006 Joe Renner and Joe Shafer died and me and Samatha were hurt. I’m sure a lot of you really don’t give a **** about me. Fine whatever you have your reasons I don’t blame you but really think about it. Both of them knew what they were getting in to. Yes it’s my fault because I was the driver but think about how many of you did what I did. … Now don’t get me wrong I take full responsability for everything that happened, but when you sit and say everything your saying think about what you probley did the day before that or maybe that night. You all take that risk. I never though it was gonna happen to me and it did. I learned from that I lost two very good friends of mine and a lot of people did.”
Both of them knew what they were getting into? Um… I don’t think they had any idea they were getting into a possibly fatal situation. And I don’t think public sentiment is going to fall in your favor when you are blaming the victims. One more thing she messed up on (other than the plethora of spelling mistakes): she had just pleaded not guilty. After prosecutors saw her page, they presented it to her attorney after which she changed her plea and was convicted.
Crime: felony possession of a firearm
Downfall: YouTube Video
In Virginia, if you are convicted of something like grand larceny and burglary, like the man in this case, you can no longer own or possess a firearm. Well, a 37-year-old in Arlington decided that law didn’t apply to him. He filmed a video of himself in his bedroom posing with a gun.
What’s worse is that the gun was manufactured and originally sold outside the state, elevating the crime to federal status. The man faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Crime: Possession and sale of stolen items
I don’t know how much TSA inspectors get paid, but for one of them at Newark Airport, it wasn’t enough. He was picking things out of people’s luggage and reselling them on Ebay.
And we’re not talking a few little knickknacks here. When he was arrested, investigators found 66 cameras, 31 laptop computers, 20 cell phones, 17 sets of electronic games, 13 pieces of jewelry, 12 GPS devices, 11 MP3 players, eight camera lenses, six video cameras and two DVD players. In addition, he had already sold 259 items according to his Ebay profile. Keep this in mind next time you want to take some naughty pictures on your vacation. There’s a slim chance that your boss will buy the camera on Ebay.
There are tens of thousands of home robberies in America every year, most of them done by criminals smarter than this next guy. A 19-year-old broke into a house in Martinsburg, West Virginia. While going through the house looking for valuables, he decided that this would be a good time to log into his Facebook account and update his status.
That’s all fine and good. It can’t be easy to be that calm while in the commission of a felony. Anyhoo, the homeowners returned home later that night and discovered several items missing. They called the police and, while waiting for them to arrive, went to the computer to let people know what happened. When they saw the screen, it was still logged in to the man’s account. Needless to say, it didn’t take the cops very long to figure out whodunit. The man was arrested and convicted of grand theft and trespassing.
So remember, if you’re going to commit a crime and need to lay low for a while, TURN OFF YOUR DAMN COMPUTER.