U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Timothy Sinnigen used a seized cell phone to create a phony Facebook account of a woman for law enforcement purposes to find and communicate with wanted fugitives. The use of a phony social media account has been used in the past but not to this standard. Sondra Arquiett, whose identity was used, did not give express permission for the use of her photographs on her cell phone to be used to create an undercover Facebook page, although the young women did give consent to access the information in the phone.
Sondra Arquiett, also known as Sondra Prince, did not know her identity was being used until a friend asked about the pictures she was posting on Facebook. Arquiett was surprised due to the fact that she did not even have a Facebook account. The photos ranged in appearance. In one picture she is accompanied by her son and niece who are both young in the picture. This picture can pose as a threat to her family. In another, Arquiett is wearing her bra and underwear or a two-piece bathing suit. Sondra Arquiett even noted that these pictures were to never be shared publically.
Arquiett was arrested in July 2010 due to being accused of participating in a conspiracy in distributing cocaine. “She pled guilty in February 2011, and in a court filing, federal prosecutors recommended a reduced sentence, noting that she was not a significant player in the conspiracy and had promptly accepted responsibility.” She was accused of aiding her significant other, Jermaine Branford, and his associates in processing and storing cocaine in her apartment. Her phone was confiscated during her arrest and the account was made before her court appearance.
Source: Chris Hamby “Government Set Up A Fake Facebook Page In This Woman’s Name,” October 20, 2014, http://www.mediachannel.org/government-set-up-a-fake-facebook-page-in-this-womans-name/.
Student Researcher: Bryanna Sharot (Indian River State College)
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)