Celebrating the end of a bad relationship, a woman discovered that something was wrong when she was buying groceries. Her ATM card showed insufficient funds. The bank informed her they had proof she withdrew all her money. Later that week, her bank recorded a deposit that equaled what she had lost. Confused, she wondered if the bank had caught a mistake and fixed it. The bank insisted that, according to their records, she withdrew the money and later made a deposit to replace it. It was not a bank error. This incident was just the beginning. Early on, the woman realized only her ex-boyfriend had access to the passwords and personal information to manipulate her bank account.
Next, he used software to hijack her identity on social media. He sent malicious messages to her contacts, pretending they came from her. He submitted false emails to her employer, and she nearly lost her job. She also found GPS trackers hidden in her car. A friend in IT traced the cyberstalking and social media impersonation to her former boyfriend. She obtained legal counsel to put a stop to his persistent harassment.
Federal law forbids cyberstalking
In November 2018, a United States attorney sentenced a university student to 24 months’ imprisonment, followed by 36 months of supervised release for impersonating another student to discredit him over a personal dispute. The case went to Homeland Security Investigations. The U.S. attorney who announced sentencing stated that the student used the internet as a weapon to implement a personal vendetta. Cyberstalking not only risks imprisonment but can also carry hefty fines of up to $250,000.
State law prohibits cyberstalking
While these cases seem cut and dry, accusations and consequences of cyberstalking are increasingly serious. In Texas, cyberstalking is punishable by imprisonment, possible felony charges and up to a $10,000 penalty. If the severity of the case approaches certain levels, the state may involve federal Homeland Security Investigations. The national court system handles many cases of cyberstalking. There are concerns that the government is intruding on matters of internet dispute that should be in the purview of civil courts.
A cyberstalking charge deserves experienced representation
Cyberstalking issues are not necessarily clear-cut, and false accusations do occur. Solid research and defense may help those facing such allegations. It may even be possible to diminish the seriousness of charges, as well as potential fines and imprisonment, with the right representation.