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Busted: Police Find Fugitive On MySpace

Autumn Davis
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-12-12

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MySpace aids Georgia police in tracking down a fugitive who made the mistake of using a public computer.

Physicians are using Google to diagnose patient's symptoms, and the United States government is using it to create a nuke program watch list. Now the police are using MySpace to track down fugitives, leaving some wondering what else authorities can accomplish using social networking sites and search engines.

Darren Bates thought he was home free after he escaped from a Georgia jail last June and fled to Philadelphia, PA. Little did he know that the social networking site MySpace would put him right back behind bars.

Bates, who faces multiple charges in Baldwin County, Georgia, used his real name on a MySpace account that he regularly checked at a Philadelphia public library. When the authorities discovered that he was using a public computer, they arrested him Thursday morning in the library where he checked his account.

"It's amazing to us the number of people, regardless of their status as far as being wanted, that do get on computers and do use their real names or use aliases that are well known, and they can be tracked that way," Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee said.

Authorities have been increasingly relying on criminals using their real names online, as well as the use of the Internet to aid them in capturing assailants.

The MSNBC Dateline series "To Catch A Predator" demonstrates just how easy it can be for authorities to locate and capture would-be assailants. Using a search engine chat room, investigators lure sexual predators and pedophiles into the open, using of course a legal aged decoy, and then arrest them.

In the United Kingdom, police are even going so far as to train officers in "computer forensics", which is a crime-fighting technique that is part science, part sleuthing. The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, or NHTCU, used search engines and Internet sites to locate 12 Russian criminals involved in online phishing scams.

The NHTCU also had success in scanning the Internet for the identities of pedophiles who traded pornographic images through various websites.

MySpace was also used in an incident where three Henderson, Nevada teens "tagged" a local law enforcement officer's vehicle. Henderson authorities used the several websites, including MySpace, to track the graffiti used and to find the suspects.

With the amount of information regarding individuals readily available on search engines and social networking sites, perhaps criminals will be more careful in the future when broadcasting their whereabouts to authorities.

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About the Author:
Autmn Davis is a staff writer for WebProNews covering ebusiness and technology.

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