• Is a fake Facebook page identity theft?

    Date: 01.09.12 | by Judge Tom.

    In a case scheduled for trial in 2012, Dana Thornton is charged with identity theft. After she and her boyfriend broke up, Dana allegedly created a Facebook page pretending to be her ex, New Jersey narcotics detective Michael Lasalandra.

    Dana, age 41, used personal information and photos of the detective. She posted comments supposedly from him such as “I’m a sick piece of scum with a gun.” She also wrote that he was “high all the time,” had herpes and frequented prostitution and escort services.

    After hearing the state’s evidence, a grand jury charged Thornton with one count of fourth degree theft of identification. New Jersey’s law doesn’t specify electronic communication but the court decided that the language of the law covered what Thornton is alleged to have done. Other states (California, Texas and New York) have statutes prohibiting specifically the e-impersonation of another person. Taking and using someone’s name, photo and personal data without permission constitutes identity theft.

    Update: As of February, 2012, Thornton and her attorney were trying to get her into the Pretrial Intervention Program, a diversion option that will result in dismissal of the charges upon successful completion of the program. At a hearing in March, 2012, the judge signed off on an agreement between the state and Thornton. She will begin the Pretrial Intervention Program which calls for one year of supervision, a psychological evaluation and counseling if recommended, and 50 hours of community service. If Thornton successfully completes the program, all charges will be dismissed and she won’t have a criminal record.

    Dana Thornton

     

    Although creating a fake profile of a friend or someone you know such as a principal or teacher sounds harmless, think twice before doing so. Even if done as a joke, it could backfire and lead to serious criminal charges that will affect your life at home, school and in your community. Remember, as we’ve mentioned many times on this site, once you put something out there, it’s permanent. You can’t retract it and your words or photos can come back to bite you in the future.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    1 Comment subscribe to these comments.

    • Mike Deluca
      Mon, 09 Jan 2012 at 09:47

      There seems to be a double standard in New Jersey regarding internet identity theft. I am not sure if it is because the victim in the Thornton case is a police officer, or if the perpetrator in my case, is a friend of a Town official.

      I am the victim of identity theft in New Jersey (Guttenberg) but the local police and the Hudson County prosecutor refuse to prosecute the person who created an email address under my name mikerdeluca@yahoo.com, sent emails posing as me that are of a perverted sexual nature much to vulgar to print here, and posted messages in the chat room section of my homeowner association blog with the user name mike deluca. I am an advocate of free speech but saying or criticizing someone by stealing their identity to mislead the readers into thinking it is me who is writing those words in something entirely different than free speech.

      I reported this to the Guttenberg police in early August but they have failed to even file a complaint against “Jeffery” who lives in the same condo as me, The Galaxy Towers. Five months have passed but nothing has been done. I reported this to the Hudson County prosecutor’s computer crime division head, Lt. Dezanzo, but he refuses to charge “Jeffery” with identity theft. He said this falls under harassment. He referred my complaint back to the Guttenberg police who have refused to even charge “Jeffery” with harassment. I am wondering if this is because he is a friend and neighbor of the Guttenberg mayor and councilman, Gerald Drasheff and Alfonso Caso or if it is because i am not a police officer. “jeffery” did the same thing to me, as Ms Thornton did to her ex-boyfriend but she was indicted for identity theft, “jeffery” has not even received a complaint for anything and five months have passed.

      “Jeffery” admitted his acts to me, my wife, and two others. Their sworn statements were given to the Guttenberg police. As the admin of my website, i have the IP address of the postings on my website. They trace back to “Jeffery’s” office in Hackensak, New Jersey.

      I recently contacted Hudson County Assemblyman Ruben Ramos who sponsored the Bill that expands the statute to include electronic communications as a form of identity theft. I also contacted Senator Brian Stack. I am asking Mr. Ramos to explain the double standard and ask the Hudson County prosecutor to reconsider the decision not to prosecute “Jeffery”

      What is most puzzling to me is that a Morris County prosecutor and a Morris County judge supports the Bill Mr. Ramos sponsored as a Hudson County Assemblyman along with the amended statute. Both Morris County officials recognize that even though electronic communication is not in the statute, it doesn’t make it less of a crime as the judge indicated in his ruling, but the Hudson County prosecutor does not seem to support the Bill Mr. Ramos sponsored, the amended statute, or the judge’s precedent setting ruling that allowed the Morris County prosecutor to charge ms. Thornton with identity theft. I thought this would have been a great opportunity to show the residents of New Jersey and especially Hudson County, that internet identity theft will not be tolerated and that Mr. Ramos’s Bill are supported by his fellow Hudson County constituents. I am waiting for a response from Assemblyman Ramos.

      My website is http://www.galaxyfacts.com
      On the home page there is a link to the chat room blog http://www.galaxy-facts.com
      Dear Mike: AsktheJudge.info is an educational site for & about teenagers and the laws that affect them. We don’t provide legal advice to adults or teens. We hope your situation is resolved to your satisfaction. Good luck.
      (This is information only – not legal advice).