Cyber-crimes come in many shapes and sizes. Some are massive, sophisticated attacks … and others are incredibly dumb personal vendettas carried out via Craigslist from a work computer that ends in an easily traceable and extremely embarrassing crime.
When you think of someone who trawls for sex on Craigslist, you’re probably thinking of someone who looks like homeless Steve Buscemi dipped in perv sauce. But people who go on Casual Encounters walk among us. Sometimes they’re not creeps at all, just people looking for love. Sometimes, of course, they are the people your parents warned you about. But they are easily outed when they don’t understand how easy it is to track somebody online – in this case, it’s made even more surprising given that the perpetrator works for one of the most expansive research centers in the world.
Case in point: investigators are charging Library of Congress employee Kenneth Kuban with felony stalking for harassing a woman he used to date with a series of sublimely creepy Craigslist ads. Now, it’s not illegal to make posts that explicitly ask for sex on the Internet, as long as you aren’t soliciting sex for money. People can make all sorts of obscene statements and queries as long as they are seeking sex that comes without a price tag.
But what Kuban allegedly did is something different: Instead of soliciting sex for himself, he is accused of soliciting sex for someone else. He is charged with making posts that solicit sex for a woman called “L.M.” According to investigators, Kuban wrote these posts with the intention of sending men who wanted sex to L.M.’s house. Since the posts made it seem as though she wanted to have a casual sexual encounter, she was left with an incredibly awkward and confusing situation to deal with when these salacious suitors showed up at her door.
The victim of this prank became so incensed by her unwanted visitors that she called the police and posted signs around her property that Craigslist visitors were not welcome.
The situation escalated into a major problem – the police report states that it got so bad it “resulted in the local Sheriff’s department being called to her residence frequently, often several times a day, to chase away the men who had been enticed by these ads to travel, even across state lines, to visit L.M. for these falsely advertised sexual encounters.”
But the onslaught of sex-seekers continued until undercover agents posed as potential targets and chatted with Kuban, who obliviously continued to pretend to be the woman.
The agents traced the postings back to Kuban’s computer without a problem – he wrote most of the posts from a computer within the Library of Congress.
This case makes it clear that cyber-stalkers aren’t always derelict weirdos with obvious social problems (at least, on the surface). And though it’s far less tragic, it shares a few strands of DNA with the Craigslist killer case: An educated male perpetrator with a well-respected job overestimates his ability to stay anonymous on Craigslist, and uses the site to take advantage of women. In this case, luckily, nothing violent occurred – and hopefully it will teach people looking for romance on the site that they can’t trust that people portray themselves honestly.