Taking Aim At Cyber Bullies

Monday, April 14th 2008, 5:36 pm
By: News On 6

Cyber stalking, bullying and harassment.  News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports police and deputies say they are seeing a big increase in the number of threats being made online, both through computers and cell phones.

The threats come from ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, classmates, even total strangers.  Whether they're true or scams, they are very unsettling and cause a lot of worry.  However, there is one good side to this troubling trend:  text messages and e-mails leave behind a trail of evidence.

Carla Robinson knows cyber stalking all too well.  Not only did she receive dozens of text messages, voicemails and emails, but when those no longer had the desired effect, her ex-boyfriend targeted those close to her.

"I was constantly getting stuff, e-mails, text messages, then he started contacting my family and friends and using my email address to do it and on and on," said Carla Robinson.

Investigator Jeremy Yerton says using e-mail and text messages to stalk, harass and bully is becoming increasingly common as are stranger threats.

A hit man e-mail is circulating in Green Country right now.

It says someone you know wants you dead and they've been hired to kill you; however, if you pay them more than the person who hired them, you'll be spared.  It's all a scam to get money, but still unsettling.

"These kinds of e-mails, you don't know who they're from, out of the blue, don't make sense.  Just delete those e-mails.  Don't respond to them at all," said Tulsa County Sheriff's investigator Jeremy Yerton.

One good thing about the high tech form of harassment is the evidence it leaves behind.

Victims should either save the texts and e-mails or copy them and either save or make a recording of threatening voicemails.  Yerton says many criminals have the misconception that what they do online can't be traced.

"There is no anonymity on the internet. You can be traced back to that computer. They think I'm on the World Wide Web and I can do what I want and not be found, but that's not the case," said Tulsa County Sheriff's investigator Jeremy Yerton.

It is against the law to make threats using texts, e-mails or voicemails, just like if you called them up or made the threat to their face.  Investigators say we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

They advise, if it's a scam delete it.  If you feel unsafe, report it.

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