The Newest Social Media Nightmare: Hostage Situations

A man in Queens, NY, decided to hold an ex-girlfriend's Facebook account hostage

By Lauren Bertolini
|  Friday, Feb 26, 2010  |  Updated 8:15 AM PDT
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The Newest Social Media Nightmare: Hostage Situations

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There is a new type of hostage negotiation.

At this point, we have all seen the dark side of social media: from phishing attacks launched via Facebook and Twitter, to cyber-bullying.

But an especially enterprising (and manipulative) fellow in Queens, NY, has found a new way to abuse social media -- by creating a hostage situation.

In an attempt to squeeze some $590 out of an ex-girlfriend, Paul Franco hacked into his ex's Facebook account, changed her sexual preference to gay, and then proceeded to spam her friends and family, according to The New York Post.

As a ransom, he wanted his ex, Jessica Zamora-Anderson, to pay the impound lot fine for his car, which was towed on Jan. 30 after having been illegally parked infront of her apartment, the Post reports.

Zamora-Anderson finally went to the police after failing to negotiate for the account's safe return.

"I got worried that he wasn't going to stop," she told the Post. "Everyone believed it was me."

A spokesperson for the Queens DA said that Franco was arrested on Feb. 10 charges of coercion and harrasment for his latest hijinks.

The account hijacking was just the tip of the iceberg in a relationship apparently filled with cyber-abuse -- he had previously blackmailed her over the possibility of a sex tape, and lied about working at Queens College after reading Zamora-Anderson's blog on her classes, according to the paper.

From The Post's report it appears that Franco only spammed her ex's friend and family, but had she been a professional rather than a college student, he could have easily engaged her co-workers or boss, seriously damaging her credibility.

The lesson in all of this? Think before sharing your password with anyone, even your seemingly loving significant other or spouse. The last thing you want to worry about in the midst of a messy break-up is whether or not you have full control of your identity.

If it is too late, and you find yourself in a similar situation -- go to the police, the precedent (at least in New York) is now set.

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