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Cyber-stalking Jersey Man Sentenced to 45 Days in Jail

A New Jersey man has been sentenced to 45 days in prison and five years’ probation for his role in a case of cyber bullying that included sending sexually explicit photos of another person to that person’s school and posting them on his own website, according to the FBI’s Philadelphia office.

Matthew Bean participated in a web chat about the victim and the photos that included references, by others, to shaming the victim into possibly committing suicide. He pleaded guilty to stalking Sept. 15, 2010.

In addition to the prison time, Bean was ordered to post a message on the relevant website to let people know that cyber bullying is a crime and that law enforcement will pursue those who engage in it, and pay a $2,000 fine.

“We cannot, in 2011, underestimate the impact of bullying when it is enhanced by cyber means,” said Special Agent-in-Charge George C. Venizelos of the Philadelphia Division of the FBI. “Gone are the days of the proverbial ‘playground bully,’ as that playground has now expanded exponentially via the Internet. The relative perceived anonymity of the Internet appears to empower individuals to say and do things they would not do in person.”

A report by the Office of Justice Program’s Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that during a 12-month period, an estimated 3.4 million people age 18 or older were victims of stalking. The study measured behaviors such as unwanted phone calls, sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or emails, following or spying on the victim, showing up at places without a legitimate reason, waiting at places for the victim, leaving unwanted items, presents or flowers and posting information or spreading rumors about the victim online, in a public place, or by word of mouth.

Additional findings revealed that approximately one in four stalking victims reported some form of cyber stalking such as email (83 percent); 30 percent of victims are stalked by a current or former partner; females are nearly three times more likely to be victims of this crime; and nearly 75 percent of stalking victims knew the perpetrator in some way or the other.

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