Woman's Photos Lifted, Used on Dating Sites


District Attorney's Office: Impersonator's Behavior Did Not Meet Level of Criminal Statute

"Right now, I'm just so angry," Stacy said. "I envision this woman copying and pasting my photos and using them at her own free will and I'm angry and I just want to inconvenience her the way she's inconvenienced me. She has a family. ... She should know better."

VIDEO: Lawsuit accuses the dating Web site of leaving profiles of inactive members up.

Despite the distress the situation has injected into Stacy's life, the District Attorney's office in Denver told her that it would not prosecute the case.

Lynn Kimbrough, a spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney's Office, said officials reviewed the case and considered a variety of statutes it might have violated, including criminal impersonation, identity theft, computer crime, charity, fraud, stalking and even pimping and prostitution.

But none of the criminal statutes fit the details of this particular case, she said.

"The bottom line is the behavior -- what was done and the intent behind it -- did not rise to the level of a criminal statute that we could prove beyond a reasonable doubt," she said.

There is a criminal impersonation statute, Kimbrough said, but to violate it requires proof that the suspect attempted to "unlawfully gain a benefit for herself or another or injure or defraud another."

Financial Assets Usually Involved in Criminal Impersonation Cases

Officials would have to establish that Aguilar tried to extract or interfere with something of value (cash, credit, property or a service), and "I don't believe that finding a persona on an Internet dating website would qualify as a thing of value," she said.

Since hearing of the District Attorney's decision, Stacy said, she has retained a lawyer and intends to sue Aguilar in civil court, likely for libel, slander, defamation and invasion of privacy.

"Girls need to be aware that this kind of thing does happen and they do have to be cautious," Stacy said. "It's not just that kids are sending hateful messages in middle school. ... It gets much bigger than that."

While social networking sites, blogs and other kids of new media make it easier than ever to network and keep up with friends, she said, people should be aware that identity theft is always a risk.

Stacy may not the have the option to resolve her case in a criminal court, but a bill that unanimously passed California's Senate and Assembly last month could make malicious online impersonation a crime in that state.

Calif. Legislature Passes 'E-Personation' Bill

The criminal "e-personation" bill would make it a misdemeanor to impersonate someone online with the intention of "harming, intimidating, threatening or defrauding." It would be punishable with up to $1,000 in fines or one year in prison, or both.

The current impersonation law was written in 1872 and doesn't adequately address the technology-enabled abuses of today, according to a statement on California State Sen. Joe Simitian's website.

The new legislation would extend the existing impersonation law to online platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and other social media sites.

Some free speech advocates, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have contested the bill, arguing that it would undermine online activism that relies on impersonation.

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