back to article MySpace fraudster indicted in teen's suicide

A 49-year-old Missouri mother has been indicted for fraudulently using MySpace to "cyber-bully" a teenage girl who committed suicide after she was tricked into believing she was being dumped by her online boyfriend. Lori Drew, of O'Fallon, Missouri, was named in a federal indictment charging her with three counts of accessing …

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Almost-Murder?

A sad story, indeed. But conspiracy and hacking charges? The mother in this case made a fake myspace account, used public servers, and said some nasty things.

The (rather scummy) Mrs. Drew needs to be assessed mentally, but criminalizing what boils down to name calling is a pretty frightening prospect.

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Anonymous Coward

Already had the "Law & Order" Episode. Let it drop.

Yes Mrs. Drew is a scumbag. Maybe she was the one thing that sent the poor kid "over the edge". All these things are bad, real bad. They just aren't criminal. It seems to me that the object of the harassment should have had some psychiatric help LONG ago. Then again, the mom (Mrs. Drew) needs some help as well.

Somewhere in our country, we have a first amendment that ought to cover this case. Maybe someone will see it.

If this goes through, will we have similar cases involving other "cyber-bullies" (a "church" comes to mind)?

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We don't shun anymore

Actually the charges ARE criminal, but we have lost the habit, or perhaps the capacity, of "shunning" which would be the only punishment which would fit the crime.

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Why does the "fraud" really matter?

If she had been male and legitimately interested in this girl, and then cruelly ditched her after a change of heart... do the feds throw you in lockup for being an asshole boyfriend? Or do the prosecutors just desperately want to cling to their illusion that people they meet online should be the same age and gender as they claim?

Good thing the girl never decided to send any sexually-themed pictures of herself - the perpetrator would have a lynch mob after her in a heartbeat.

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Predatory prosecution

This suicide's a real shame, but this kind of predatory prosecution is what makes have no respect for the feds. The whole "let's just stretch these laws well past what the breaking point and see what sticks" type attitude is simply ridiculous, and I hope a judge drops the case and files some kind of an ethics charge against the prosecutors for doing this. A *civil* lawsuit by the parents/relatives of the young lady who killed herself is entirely another matter, but it seems to me no crime was committed and the state should stay out of it.

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The pity of it is

There is no protection for anyone on line and this case seems to sum up the whole internet ethos.

Whereas in real life, everyone in the neighbourhood would be aware of the mental defects in a woman like the accused, online there is no one watching out for people like that.

And there is no defending a child from such situations. If such torture were to be seen in real life, all hell would break loose with social workers, the police and health care workers getting involved.

This case has to be heard in a court. And no matter how unlikely it is a crank like that bitch will end up inside, the legal system must come up with cultural safeguards that were never deemed necessary in the thousands of years such behaviour was not so easy to instigate.

Personally I'd like to see a case number stamped on her forehead and have her released immediately. If they use an hot enough branding iron and let the wound fester for a bit, there shouldn't be too much of a problem with her trying to erase it.

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Screwed up world we live in...

And there is no defending a child from such situations. <-- erm sure there is... just ban all social notworking sites. And most of all EDUCATE your child...

I hate it when people come out with: Monitor your childs online habits, chats, etc... that is JUST WRONG it means be ready to be monitored you're entire life(1984 anyone). The BEST way to avoid such tragic occurences as this is to educate your children and be there for them. Unlike most parents today where they belive that the TV or the Computer or even School for that matter will teach them all of lives lessons etc...

Parents need to be there for their children but since todays society is so screwed up it seems ok to just plop the child down infornt of the TV or Computer and forget about them or enforce unacceptable monitoring(children have the same human rights as anyone else along with full expectation of privacy).

Again monitoring BAD education GOOD..

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Anonymous Coward

lock her up

works for me.

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Paris Hilton

@ I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects (lol at the name)

"Personally I'd like to see a case number stamped on her forehead and have her released immediately. If they use an hot enough branding iron and let the wound fester for a bit, there shouldn't be too much of a problem with her trying to erase it."

dont you think that should she be branded she would spend more time "indoors" aka online.... tormenting more "inocent" victims..

what i fail to grasp tho.... is you live in the same country. you have the likes of skype, msn etc with voice chat and webcams... its a tad wierd that they never "spoke" or cam'ed (not necisarily clothing off type) and she got so hooked that she would commit suicide. personaly i think they looking for an escape goat. the dead girls suroundings should be investigated more if they want to find the true guilty party

paris cause....... im sure alot of people havent spoken to her or cam'ed with her but are never the less infatuated by her. anyone know how many people shes driven to suicide by anychance?

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Gates Halo

RE: Predatory prosecution

I couldn't disagree more.

Hats off the the Feds for trying to bring the sillt women to justice. If she hadnt been online playing a fool then the girl would probably be alive.

And the truth is she provided false details and she should be held accountable

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Boyfriends beware

If this sets a precedent, all your ex-girlfriends would need to do to put you in jail is to kill themselves.

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Coat

Touch the snake?

"invited her to touch the snake"?

Is that where I have been going wrong all these years? ;-)

Mine's the one with the snake in the ripped pocket

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Unhappy

Re:Almost-Murder?

Regarding the 'hacking' you mention, the article doesn't mention which computers she accessed without authority does it? (maybe the young teens or friends?). Or is that simply the result of breaking the MySpace T&C's when creating the account which would therefore mean she didn't have proper authority to use their network (a bit of a stretch I agree, but legally I guess they feel they have the right, however...)

I fully endorse MySpace for pursuing this person who abused their site, broke their terms of use, was morally despicable and ultimately led to a young girl committing suicide, if this is deemed acceptable behavior not just 'in real life' but also online, just wtf are we going to take a stand on ?

She premeditatedly created an account and persistently used it to reach one purpose, build up a fictional relationship and then cause as much emotional hurt and damage as possible, which in turn carries a risk of the dire consequence we see here.

As a note on my stance, one of my friends mates topped himself after years of sustained abuse and bullying, people knew of it, but hadn't realized it was so serious, slightly different I know as years of abuse can grind anyone down. Same result though.

One message, this is not acceptable online or anywhere.

Good luck to MySpace.

PS. If MySpace would also remove itself off the web entirely later I'd be grateful, along with all these other waste of space sites of a similar ilk. kthnx

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Alert

Huh?

Did anyone actually read the final paragraph?

"Their charges hinge on the allegations that Drew violated MySpace terms of service..."

It is now a criminal offense to violate a company's terms of service?

A mother decided to get even for a slight -- real or imagined -- against her daughter. The unintended consequences were tragic. As Henry Wertz posted, the matter belongs in a civil, not a criminal, court.

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Anonymous Coward

Wrong charges....

The ridiculous behavior of who should be a mature woman had tragic results. And I can't see how breaking the sites ToS is going to achieve any sort of punishment.

However a 49 year old poses as a 16 year old to intentionally have an online relationship with a 13 year old girl. Sounds like grooming to me.

And the offer of 'touching the snake' would be a sexual advance.

Charge her and get her on the sex offenders list, you could find that she'd potentially do some time for that or at least make the rest of her life that more difficult.

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Anonymous Coward

Shouldn't scapegoat be one word?

I used to know but it escapes me now!

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"Escape goat"

...was one of my favourite Jade Goodyisms, just slightly behind her belief in East Angular being a foreign 'oliday destination

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@Martin

> It is now a criminal offense to violate a company's terms of service?

Well, it is if the T's&C's say that you have no authority to access an account set up fraudulently, for then you put yourself in the path of the federal law, as the prosecutors here seem to believe is the case.

Personally, I blame EULAs (hold on, I haven't finished...)

For years and years we've been used to being presented with reams of legal stuff headed with "IMPORTANT Please read the following yadda yadda", and a button labelled [I agree]. It should be labelled [Yeah, whatever, just get on with the setup] because hardly anyone ever reads the damn things. If Drew read (and was capable of understanding) the T's&C's, she should have seen that what she was contemplating was illegal. Whether she did or not, she clicked on [Yeah, whatever] and that makes her actions premeditated and illegal. That the outcome was a death doesn't alter the facts.

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Boffin

@ John

MySpace might well be complete cack but since it's not your space that it's taking up why expend the energy on wishing it to be gone for ever? It's like complaining about a TV programme you don't like or agree with: Simply don't watch (or use as the case may be) it and then it's of no consequence to you.

That said, I fully agree with you that it behoves MySpace to pursue the matter because whatt he woman di was as wrong as it gets and she must be punished for it somehow. If that means pursuing a legal technicality then that's better than nothing for being the a small minded and mean spirited shit she so clearly is.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Jesus Effing Christ

I dunno what's more appaling. The story or the comments it has garnered.

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Flame

Mmmm... jail...

I agree that breaking MySpace's TOS is not a criminal infraction. I also agree that the victim's family could take the matter to civil court, and would probably win.

However, I also agree that if the "victim" got so hung up over an internet boyfriend that she was willing to kill herself when he was mean to her, then clearly she was already at the breaking point, and likely ANY trigger would have caused her tragic suicide.

Just bring the defendant up on charges for "communication with a minor for immoral purposes" and because she doesn't think she did anything wrong, the board will find she's a high re-offend risk and she'll be branded a level 3 sex offender for the rest of her life. (If it was a man that was pretending to be 16 and inviting the victim to "pet the snake" you damn right the sex offender charges would have been filed post haste - frickin double standards) Then maybe that mother will learn that she needs to be a frickin adult!

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Unhappy

On line too much

After seeing pictures of her in a younger happier time and then seeing the same girl looking sad, a lot heaver but still smiling. I can only think that there was allot more going on in her life before this happened.

Young people no longer spend much time in public and do not become hardened to real life as we did. They look to email, MySpace, Facebook and other sites to experience life and take every thing there at face value.

I have told my son and his friends not to believe any thing they read, see or are told on these sites and as the parents of this poor girl should have told her. Why were they not watching what see does on the internet?

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Applicable charges

The woman in this case committed fraud in setting up the account - she deliberately violated the T & C, which qualifies as a contractual agreement between the client and MySpace, and which holds whether the client bothers to read the document or not. Because she was in Missouri and MySpace is headquartered in California, that charge becomes interstate fraud, which falls under federal jurisdiction.

In addition, beyond any criminal charges, this woman is royally SCREWED from a civil standpoint. Megan's family can sue her for wrongful death, just for a start, but think of the bad press MySpace has gotten out of this. Devaluation of name equity is also actionable - and just think about which companies are in MySpace's chain of ownership.

Fox.

News Corp.

People with LOTS of money, LOTS of scary lawyers, and not much sense of humor about someone giving them a publicity black eye.

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re: Mmmm... jail...

Well you have a point but remember a teenager (in most US places) is NOT an adult and is treated differently under the law. Teenagers do not have the same reasoning facilities as an adult and the lady took advantage of that. Having said that I would agree that the woman has broken a few laws but I will not guess as to the ones stated in the story, that is for a judge/jury to decide.

I honestly don't know if there is a law covering the reprehensible crimes of the other mother in this. To me this sounds like a manslaughter charge of some type. I am not a legal expert and will defer to them.

I would suspect the only way to treat the other mother is to make her do 20 years of mandatory community work. Say 4 hours a day or so. Maybe as a real twist have her serve it in a suicide call in service.

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Dead Vulture

Just my random thoughts

In the US, if your actions cause harm to another person, you can be held liable. There was a case of road rage where a man followed a couple home, and proceeded to get into a screaming match with the elderly man. The wife of the elderly man told the "aggressor" that her husband had a heart condition etc, and so when he had a heart attack and died, the man was charged. I don't remember the exact details but I believe he plea bargained his way out of major time.

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Pirate

Crazy world we live in..

You're wrong. It is a crime. Ever hear of the internet annoyance law passed by GDubbya? It states that it's a federal crime to purposely annoy someone on the internet without disclosing your identity.

That puts it in the Feds jurisdiction. Add on the fact that they MADE THE GIRL KILL HERSELF and it's conspiracy to murder. What other purpose could they have had for doing something like this over a period of time? They attached themselves to an emotionally susceptible girl and cut the tie, suggesting that she should kill herself.

It's fucking murder. That bitch mom needs to be punished.

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Dead Vulture

re: Applicable charges

Any disagreement between MySpace and the woman is a civil one and there is no law under which to prosecute her for what she did. The family cannot sue her for anything more than I can sue someone for saying mean things to me over the internet - which is not at all (Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire). Breaking MySpace's T&C could bear consequences, but the only way she will be punished is if someone finds a judge that lets his/her emotions get in the way of the law.

Dead vulture because my previous post has been removed for some reason.

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