A stalker is posing as a sorority sister to convince college girls to perform humiliating stunts and send nude photos — and so far, police haven't been able to track the con artist down.
MSNBC treats the subject with typical melodrama ("things were looking good for Ashley Atchison," but then ...), but the story itself is pretty creepy — after Atchison got a bid from the Florida State University chapter of sorority Kappa Delta, someone named Lexie Hillbrenner friended her on Facebook. "Lexie" claimed to be a KD alum, dangled the possibility of a leadership role in the sorority, then began pressuring Atchison to reveal personal secrets in hours-long chats. Finally "Lexie" threatened Atchison, told her to take off her underwear and put it in her mouth, and instructed her to send nude photos.
Atchison didn't send the photos, and instead went to the police. First Coast News quotes her: "you can keep your Greek letter. I'm done." But some students were more easily swayed than she was — "Lexie" apparently targeted nine other sorority members at FSU and other schools, and some did send naked pics. In a way, it's a classic con — pretend to be someone with authority, offer something your mark wants, and then make her jump through hoops in the hope of one day getting it. Facebook does add a new twist, however. First of all, it allowed the con to propagate more quickly — whoever's behind "Lexie" used a (clothed) picture of Atchison to set up yet another fake account and friend-request more people. It also makes it easier than ever to get information about potential marks. MSNBC's Dan Abrams thinks the amount of specific knowledge "Lexie" displayed suggest she's an insider at FSU — but she's conned students at other schools too, and really, once you're friends with someone, the amount of info you can glean just from reading her Facebook wall is pretty striking. Friend a bunch of people at the same school, and for all intents and purposes, you can become an insider — even if you're living in a different city or country.
The typical hand-wringy response to this is, "Facebook is scary! Don't friend anyone!" And of course, it's a good idea to be careful about who you allow to see your personal information. But Atchison herself provides a handy reminder: she says the real shame rests with whoever lied to her and her fellow students. Rather than waving our fingers at young people who use new technology, we should be finding ways to catch and prosecute the criminals who exploit it.
Sorority Pledges Tormented On Facebook [MSNBC]
College Facebook Scam Targets FSU Coed, Other College Girls [First Coast News]