In this digital age, anything can be quickly and easily posted about anyone online. Sometimes online posts done in jest can unfortunately not only harm a person’s reputation, but can and result in criminal charges. A Wisconsin man who jokingly posted a Craigslist ad for his neighbor is now facing the punishment – identity theft charges - for what he thought was a humorous idea.
The 30-year-old man posted an ad on Craigslist inviting men to come to his female neighbor’s house for sex. The woman became alarmed when men were coming to her door and incessantly ringing the doorbell. One man showed up wearingin nothing but a coat. When the Racine Sheriff’s Office questioned him, he said he was responding to an ad for sex that he was posted online.
Although the poster of the ad was amused by his prank, the police and the neighbor woman were not laughing. The man faces Class H felony identity theft charges. This involves using another person’s identity to harm his or her reputation. He faces a fine of up to $10,000, as well as six years in prison.
Although these types of identity theft situations have happened before, they are still relatively rare. Most cases of identity theft involve economic gain, which was the not the case here. Although the man did not steal any of his neighbor’s money, he may have harmed her reputation. However, if the man can prove that he had no criminal intentions – he simply wanted to have a little fun at his neighbor’s expense – then he will likely may be able to mount a strong defense and get his sentence reduced.
Source: Digital Journal, “Wisconsin man arrested, posed as neighbour in Craigslist sex ad,” Arthur Weinreb, May 24, 2013