The news today in Missouri reminds me again that identity issues online are really just the same things we’ve always dealt with in person.
A fake-officer convinced a small town for 5 months that he was a federal agent.
How does this happen? A sustained message of fear for years and the repeated mantra of trust of those in power coupled with a man who looked and sounded the part.
That said, it’s refreshing how quickly these things can be unraveled when the right questions are asked (and people do their jobs).
Those who wish to perpetuate a lie will go to great lengths. We can never completely prevent it, but we can create infrastructure that raises the bar for those trying to hide and deceive. Good tools, vigilance, and a little skepticism on the part of the deceived can go a long way to prevent this type of thing from happening near you.
They said the agent, a man some had come to know as “Sergeant Bill,” boasted that he did not need search warrants to enter their homes because he worked for the federal government.
But after a reporter for the local weekly newspaper made a few calls about that claim, Gerald’s anti-drug campaign abruptly unraveled after less than five months. Sergeant Bill, it turned out, was no federal agent, but Bill A. Jakob, an unemployed former trucking company owner, a former security guard, a former wedding-performing minister, a former small-town cop from 23 miles down the road.
The 51-year-old reporter apparently used about an hour on “the computer” after finding Mr. Jakob’s real name and uncovered enough to end the ruse.
I find that to be extremely comforting.View blog reactions