Online identity theft is most often carried out by computer savvy individuals for the purpose of financial gain. This is disastrous enough, but on MySpace where many of the participants are teens and young adults who are eager to fill out a profile to instigate a romantic connection, the identity theft may be for a more insidious reason.
Addressing the reasons why gives you an idea of how treacherous the situation can become. It isn’t only girls who are placed in danger due to MySpace identity theft. Boys can also be targeted.
When the predator takes on the identity of (for example) a specific teen girl who is a friend of a specific teen boy, he is able to chat with her (via MySpace) about activities, schedules and locations. It is relatively easy for him to ascertain where she goes on a daily basis and what route she takes to get there. Most teenage girls gripe about their parents and who hasn’t mentioned that they are home alone at certain times?
Let’s assume this predator is a 45-year-old gay man trying to commit MySpace identity theft. How did he know enough about Linda (a 15 year old teen girl) to impersonate her on MySpace? How did he find out she knew Kevin (a 16 year old teen boy) from school? How did he know enough about the school to chat knowledgeably about it? Last but not least, how did he choose targets living in a city he was familiar enough with to chat about streets and restaurants?
First of all, he simply read Linda’s profile. Your profile can be kept private, but often a girl hopes to meet new friends as well as connect with old friends, which makes it essential to have a public profile. Secondly, he determined that Kevin was a guy on Linda’s friends list and read his profile.
The answer to the third question is easy. He chatted about the school they both attended by reading what Linda and Kevin said about it. Question four was answered because there is a routine question asked online by teens or adults who are looking for romance; ASL, meaning what is your age, sex and location. These facts are in any public profile for a MySpace identity thief to read.
Now this experienced 45-year-old gay man is ready to pounce. In the role of Linda, he chats with Kevin over a 30-day period then casually begins to talk about how much he (posing as Linda) would love to have a picture of him. Without rushing Kevin, he (as Linda) appeals to his ego by insisting how badly he wants a picture.
This article alludes to a real life case of MySpace identity theft. A gay man posed as a teen-age girl to obtain a nude picture of a teen-age boy. Over time, he (using MySpace identity theft to carry out his plan) convinced the boy (Kevin) to send a nude picture of himself to whom he thought was a teen girl. The gay man then revealed his true identity to the underage boy and threatened to post the nude photo on the Internet for the entire world to see. UNLESS the victimized boy agreed to become sexually involved with him.
Understandably, the terrible dilemma faced by the innocent 15-year-old boy led to him making life-altering bad decisions. Writing hypothetically, let’s say he gave in because he was fearful of the nude picture being posted online. However, even after he caved in to the demand, his nude picture showed up on the Internet and he was humiliated.
Even worse, he was eventually arrested for participating in child porn because of sending his own nude picture to the gay man in the first place. Since he was sending a nude picture of a child (himself), he was automatically sending child pornography and that’s a crime even if the picture is of you. His life is trashed; he’s labeled a sex-offender and all because the 45-year-old gay man committed MySpace identity theft…