- A woman was arrested for trolling herself online.
- She Set up fake social media accounts using pictures of family members.
- Police cracked the case with the help of a computer forensic specialist.
Harassing and bullying other people online can earn you some time in the slammer, but Michelle Chapman may very well be the first person locked up for trolling herself.
Internet Harassment Using Phony Profiles
Over the course of a year, Chapman created a series of fake profiles using the names and photographs of her estranged family members. She then logged into these profiles and harassed her own account, leaving hundreds of vitriolic comments. Seemingly no one was immune to her framing attempts, as she created doppelganger accounts for her father, stepmother and other members of her family.
All of this would likely have been overlooked as an elaborate, petty, attention-getting scheme. It could have ended there had Chapman not then gone to the authorities and filed complaints against her family members on separate occasions between February and October of 2011. As a consequence, warnings were issued to several of her family members. Her stepmother faced an even worse ordeal, being arrested and questioned after one of Chapman’s numerous complaints to police.
Computer Forensic Specialist Cracks The Case
Finally, computer forensics specialists cracked the case. They were able to trace all of the accounts and offensive postings back to Chapman, which exonerated her family and brought charges upon herself. Judge Christopher Harvey Clark sentenced her to 20 months in jail, banned her from contacting her victims and also forbid her to own a computer after her release. The computer she used to commit her crimes was also confiscated.
Chapman’s husband is choosing to stand by her. He believes his wife suffers from mental illness and her actions were a cry for help. Chapman did admit to the crime and expresses remorse for her actions.
While regulations exist to protect people from Internet harassment and cyberbullying, Chapman is among the first to be jailed for attempting to frame other people for Internet harassment. The strange details of the case serve as a cautionary tale for anyone seeking revenge by way of self-trolling.
Internet Harassment Lawyer
Although lawmakers are still playing catch-up with technology, Internet harassment laws do exist. It is illegal to threaten people online, even yourself. If you are being e-stalked or otherwise harassed online, and you want to take legal action, get in touch. Our law firm has successfully handed dozens of cyber harassment cases. We can help you, too.