Police investigate phony online profile

SA woman receives harassing calls, messages


It's called online impersonation. Someone makes a phony profile on a website in order to harass or intimidate someone else.

According to the San Antonio Police Department's Financial Crimes Unit, it's against the law.

San Antonio resident, Linda, said she was a victim of online impersonation. At first, she said she didn't know what to make of the strange text messages she kept getting from people who wanted to "hook up" with her.

"I thought it was somebody playing a joke on me," said Linda. "And, then I started looking when they started giving me my personal information."

However, the harassing texts and phone calls did not stop.

Linda asked one of the callers how he got her number and he said he found her profile on "Plenty of Fish," a dating website that Linda did not sign up for.

Linda contacted "Plenty of Fish" to try and get the phony profile, with her picture and number, off the site.

However, it took a letter from Linda's attorney to have the profile removed.

"It wasn't on there that long, but still, I feel very violated," she said. "I feel like this [is a] hate crime that was committed. It's horrible."

Investigators said that impersonating someone else online is not only a form of harassment, but it is also against the law.

"Recently, we've noticed a trend over the last few years of people using the Internet, things like Facebook and dating websites to impersonate other people as a way to harass them or harm their reputation," said Sgt. Miles Earwood, a supervisor with the SAPD's Financial Crimes Unit.

Earwood said if you have been a victim of online harassment, get a screen shot of the site and call police.

Also, be careful about what you post on your Facebook page and who you let see it.

"Online impersonation has only been a statute for a few years now and it is something that the department has been trying to streamline, formalize and become better at combating," Earwood said.

Police are still investigating Linda's case, but they said she did the right thing by reporting the crime.

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