Prosecutors Get Creative in MySpace Hoax Case

Megan Meier's MySpace page resembles a typical teenager's at first glance. Music blares when it's opened, and there are several photos of Megan with hearts swirling around her smiling face. Her profile says she likes "hot guys" and "hip-hop."

But if you scroll down, a haunting image of an angel walking toward the gates of heaven makes it clear that this is actually a memorial page -- one that's been viewed more than 90,000 times.

In September 2006, Megan was just shy of her 14th birthday when she began an online relationship with a boy who called himself Josh Evans. Josh Evans was a hoax created by people who knew Megan. The fake friendship ended cruelly just six weeks later, and in the aftermath of that painful end, Megan took her life.

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Each day, more people write messages and comments full of hope and outrage on her MySpace page. One message reads, "I really wish I had a chance to meet you. I wanted to meet the beautiful and smart girl that everybody talks about. I hope you're resting easy baby girl."

Megan also hasn't been forgotten by prosecutors, who have been stymied in their attempts to bring charges against someone in the case. In an unlikely twist, nearly 2,000 miles from Missouri where Megan Meier ended her life, the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles began its own investigation. In this case, the alleged victim is not Megan Meier but MySpace, which is based in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The prosecutor is trying a new tactic, gambling on a charge he thinks may stick: wire fraud.

'Technology Outpacing the Law'

The tragedy of Megan's suicide was compounded when it was discovered that the cyberfriendship that drove her to hang herself had been a hoax -- others posing as a fictitious boy.

The outrage grew when one of the young participants in the hoax came forward, claiming that she didn't act alone.

Megan's mother, Tina Meier, was told that a neighbor and woman she knew well -- Lori Drew -- the mother of a girl who lived down the street was aware of the creation of "Josh Evans," a fictitious MySpace account, along with her 18-year-old daughter.

"I blame the Drews," Meier said. "I blame them because they absolutely created this. They created an account. They created a false account to completely trick my daughter."

No criminal charges were brought against anyone by the state of Missouri.

"It's pathetic," Meier said. "It's pathetic that we as a society do not have laws to protect our children or to protect us in general from somebody being able to hide behind a computer and do these despicable things."

But the case is open again, thanks to the California prosecutor's attempt to charge Lori Drew with fraud.

Former federal prosecutor Laurie Levenson, who worked at the Los Angeles U.S. attorney's office for several years, says it is extremely difficult to prosecute such a controversial case, particularly because it involves the Internet.

"Technology is outpacing the law, and we have to have the laws catch up with technology including things like MySpace," Levenson said.

"In this case, prosecutors are searching around. We want to find her guilty of something. What can we get even if it's a stretch."

Prosecutors may claim Lori Drew defrauded MySpace by helping set up a bogus profile on its Web site in which she posed as a minor and targeted another minor, Megan Meier.

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