Not So Criminal Minds: “Friendly” Fugitive

A series on anti-social media criminals

It’s the original Social Media cardinal sin - following, connecting with and “friending” people on social media...that you literally met for ten minutes at a bar, event, pumpkin patch etc. These people instantly have an insight into all aspects of your life that you choose to share with chosen individuals, even when taking precautions to keep information private from “strangers”. All the irony.

Another questionable social media act is the over documenting of your life online. Especially if on the run from the FBI. Especially if you’re “friends” with a government official. Nothing surprises me anymore.

So once upon a time (in 2003) a young Cameroonian named Maxi Sopo arrived in the US and initially made a living selling flowers in nightclubs until he made the natural progression onto bank fraud. Naturally. Sopo allegedly defrauded Seattle banks out of $200,000 with an accomplice and, upon learning that the authorities were closing in on him, escaped to Mexico.

Luckily for Sopo, he did disappear relatively well into oblivion/ tequila drenched beaches enough for the Feds to struggle for a number of months in establishing his direct location in México. That was until a secret agent, named Seth Reeg, put his James Bond-esque training into use...and typed his name into Facebook.

maxi-sopo--125552498035708000

A profile matching Sopo's description inevitably presented itself thanks to the gods from Silicon Valley, but all his settings were on private - except for his friends list. With more skill than a crazy ex-girlfriend, the assistant US attorney Michael Scoville trolled through Sopo’s “friends” - and found a former Justice Department official. Scoville contacted the former official who had just met Sopo at a Cancun nightclub and had no idea he was a fugitive.

Sopo’s “friend” was able to pass on information from Sopo’s Facebook page - which was actively used, eloquently painting a picture of a quaint life in exile...accompanied by statuses such as “LIFE IS VERY SIMPLE REALLY!!! BUT SOME OF US HUMANS MAKE A MESS OF IT….REMEMBER AM JUST HERE TO HAVE FUN AND PARTEEEEEEEEEEE” (Maxi Sopo ™ ). Sopo described “living in paradise and “loving it” and of course gave away his location. The information was passed onto the Mexican authorities and resulted in Sopo’s arrest.

Sopo was found guilty of four counts of bank fraud and sentenced to 33 months in prison, whilst his accomplice, Edward Asatoorians, received a sentence of 41 month. Wonder if they’re still “friends”.

A History of Social Media Evidence Not So Criminal Mind: 1st Lady Tax Fraud

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