On the heels of our recent story about the pseudo anonymity on the Internet and the general belief that you can do / get away with almost anything on the Internet, comes a story from Pennsylvania and a 14 year old boy who's alter ego's name is Jessica Carabello.
Whether she was attractive or not she was peddling a tantalizing offer to local Tobyhanna boys, she'd send them nude pictures of herself if they would send her their nude pictures. It's a game as old as time - I'll show you mine if you show me yours - and it is reported to have worked on 48 local boys.
A 14 year old in possession of naked pictures of 48 other local boys has plenty of opportunity to cause trouble for those boys, bullying, harassment and embarrassment come to mind first. However in this case the 14 year old went farther in what Monroe County Detective Brian Webbe referred to as having taken, "planning and premeditation to get accomplished."
"The suspect began to extort them (those who had sent him nude pictures), made threats if you don't send me more nude photos I'll post the ones online you already sent me. Was asking for gift cards and things of that nature," said Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Christopher Wagner. Detectives were able to use the Jessica Carabello Facebook account to track down the user behind the persona. The name on the account has now been changed to Ashley Mcgrover, although the original name still appears in the URL /jessica.carabello.9.
Looking over some of the friends on the Jessica Carabello / Ashley Mcgrover page it appears some were likely easier to convince to share nude photos than others.
(Perhaps a little extra schooling should be on his agenda so he can figure out which witch/which actually makes this a coherent sentence.)
The scam began to unravel in November when parents of a boy at Pocono Mountain West Junior High School went to police and told them a girl who their son believed was his age was attempting to extort him online. The 14 year old suspect's name is not being released due to his age; he was taken into custody last week and will face multiple charges in juvenile court.
This is hardly the first case of someone pretending to be someone else to serve one purpose or another online. What seems to be a larger issue is the likelihood that someone believes the person on the other end of the connection is being honest.
Take for example a story, from years ago, of several young men who were bored one day so they setup a website that yelled "Hey everybody I'm looking at porn!" immediately upon accessing it. Those young men snagged a picture of an attractive woman and began entering chat rooms to lure men to their webpage. We'll just say that this activity had them amused for hours, receiving replies back like, "Are you trying to get me fired?" and "My Mom heard that!".
The lesson here? First the chances that you're talking to who you think you're talking to are not good, unless you know them in real life. And second and more important Stop sending naked pictures of yourself around the Internet!