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News

Online sex offender charged after Facebook blackmail

Sophos : 09 February, 2009  (Technical Article)
A Wisconsin man has been charged with serious sexual offences after posing as a female on social networking site to entice other users into providing him with pornographic material
IT security and control firm Sophos is today reminding users about the risks of using social networking sites following news that an 18 year-old man has been charged with using Facebook to blackmail victims into performing sex acts.

Anthony Stancl of Wisconsin allegedly posed as a girl on Facebook and encouraged 31 of his classmates to send him naked photos, before blackmailing them into performing sexual acts. Stancl has been charged with five counts of child enticement, two counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child, two counts of third-degree sexual assault, possession of child pornography, repeated sexual assault of the same child, and making a bomb threat. If convicted, Stancl faces a maximum sentence of 293 years in jail.

'There's no doubt that there are plenty of 'female' profiles online that are in reality men (and probably vice versa) - using photographs that they have stolen or downloaded off the internet,' said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. 'Even if you recognise the name and picture of someone you know on Facebook, you can't necessarily be certain that it is the person you think it is. Young people need to learn how to use the internet sensibly and be made aware of the risks that are present when they login. The alternative is that we are bringing up a generation of youngsters who are not just comfortable using the internet, they're too comfortable.'

Sophos advises users to be cautious when responding to messages on social networking sites, and never to publicly share sensitive or personal information.
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