FOX 29 Explores Cyber Stalking - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

FOX 29 Explores Cyber Stalking

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PHILADELPHIA -

Email, instant messaging, Facebook and Twitter.

Just some of the ways cyber stalkers can harass someone.

Common characteristics: false accusations, rumors or threats that are usually unwanted, obsessive and menacing.

"Cyber stalking is essentially creating an online ID and using it to harass someone," defines Anthony Mongeluzo, the President of Pro Computer Service. "A lot of times it will happen where people will spread rumors or do different things either to make money, hurt a reputation, or just personal dislike."

He says cyber stalking is on the rise.

"It's extremely easy," he describes. "First you set up an email address, then utilizing that fake email address you can go on all these accounts and set up user accounts and then go on sites like LinkedIn, Instagram and grab pictures so if you want to pretend you're someone else you can even grab their picture, put it right on there and then you can friend away."

"I'm going to start friending your friends and then just working my way into your network and from there it's all over," says Mongeluzo.

Cyber stalking is often done by someone you know. It could be an ex, a former friend or just someone who wants to bother you or your family.

That's what happened to Tony Bruno, a popular sports talk radio host at Philly's 97.5 The Fanatic. A disgruntled fan created several fake twitter accounts and started harassing him. The harassment got so bad and offensive that Bruno's girlfriend, and former producer, Robin Austin went to the police.

"We've made a police report and they said it's great to track it all but until they actually threaten you, the police can't do anything," says Austin.

All 50 states have laws addressing electronic forms of stalking or harassment, but sometimes victims' reports are not taken seriously by police. Cops say it's often difficult to figure out or prove that the threat is real or just a joke or misinterpreted message.

"They sometimes laugh at you. They'll say, 'Oh someone's putting a message on your computer; that's not criminal. Who cares!' not realizing there could be threats," says Mongeluzo.

Bruno says his stalker used Twitter to harass him, and the sports radio talk show host thinks Twitter can solve the problem.

"If somebody is constantly creating 15, 20, 30 fake accounts so they can go on for the express purpose of hassling somebody, intimidating somebody , spreading false information about them, it's Twitter's responsibility to block that person," says Bruno. "Cut off their IP address; you're not allowed to put another address on and that's all Twitter has to do."

According to a recent study, cyber stalking is more common than physical harassment. Mongeluzo says cyber stalking is a disturbing trend in our modern society and it will only get worse.

"Cyber stalking is only going to get more and more complex," he predicts. "As more of those outlets get released, that's more opportunity to create more fake accounts."

"It's another medium for people to put more personal information out which they shouldn't, which makes them more vulnerable to stalking," concludes Mongeluzo.

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