Friend: Dylan Osborn, 37, of Buckinghamshire, England
Story: Shortly after Osborn joined Facebook in 2007, a window appeared on screen asking if he wanted to send “friend requests” to everyone on his e-mail list. He clicked “Yes.” Result: A friend request went to his estranged wife, Claire Tarbox … with whom he was under court order to not have any contact.
Busted! Tarbox called the police, and Osborn was arrested for sending this friend request and then sentenced by a judge to 10 days in jail. Osborn claimed that he hadn’t understood how Facebook works and had no idea the request would be sent to Tarbox. “I didn’t even know she had a Facebook account,” he told reporters after his release. “To be honest, I don’t think the judge understood how it works, either.”
Here’s how you can tell who’s unfollowed you on Facebook, in case you’re curious.
Friend: Vanessa Starr Palm, 23, of Illinois, and Alexander Daniel Rust, 24, of Indiana
Story: While Palm and Rust were on vacation in the Bahamas in 2009, they saw a wild iguana. They killed it. And they cooked and ate it. And they took photos of the whole process … and posted them on their Facebook profiles.
Busted! Iguanas are endangered species in the Bahamas. Someone contacted authorities about the photos, and Bahamian police tracked down and arrested the couple. They were released from jail on $500 bail and eventually paid fines for their illegal meal. Here are some other animals you probably didn’t know are endangered.
Friend: Mark Musarella, 46, of Staten Island, New York
Story: Musarella was an emergency medical technician with the Richmond University Medical Center. When he was called to an apartment where a 26-year-old woman had been murdered, he took a photo of the dead body with his cell phone and (you know what’s coming next) posted the photo to his Facebook page.
Busted! One of Musarella’s “friends” saw the photo and called the hospital where he worked. He was immediately fired, then arrested on charges of official misconduct and disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to 200 hours of community service. A former highly decorated NYPD detective, Musarella also lost his EMT license.
The King and I
Friend: Fouad Mourtada, 26, of Casablanca, Morocco
Story: Mourtada joined Facebook sometime in 2007, under a fake name. Whose? Moulay Rachid, brother of Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, and second in line to the Moroccan throne.
Busted! In February 2008, Mourtada was arrested. He confessed to having made the fake Facebook profile, explaining that he’d done it “to get girlfriends.” Mourtada was quickly tried, convicted of “modifying and falsifying information technology data and usurping an official’s identity,” and sentenced to three years in prison. A month later, after intense international pressure at what was viewed as an unfair trial, “Prince” Fouad Mourtada was released… after receiving a royal pardon.
Are you still falling for these common Facebook scams? Don’t.
Friend: Paul Franco, 38, of Queens, New York
Story: In February 2010, Franco hacked the Facebook account of his ex-girlfriend, Jessica Zamora-Anderson … and changed her sexual preference to “gay.” Then he changed her password and proceeded to hold her account hostage, demanding hundreds of dollars from her if she wanted it back. Zamora-Anderson had met Franco 16 months earlier, on Facebook. He posed as a 29-year-old English teacher at Queen’s College, where she was taking classes. They started dating, and eventually, she found out he wasn’t a teacher, but continued dating him because he claimed he had a tape of them having sex and he’s put it on the Internet if she left him.
Busted! Zamora-Anderson finally had enough and called the police. Franco was arrested, and Zamora-Anderson got her Facebook account back. (And it turned out that Franco didn’t have a sex tape).