Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mafia Fail

From ABC News ...

One of Italy's 100 most-wanted criminals, a vicious mafia boss who had been on the run for months, was betrayed by his passion for social networking and flushed out thanks to Facebook.

Using the name "Scarface" from the gangster movie starring Al Pacino, Pasquale Manfredi, 33, a boss of the the ferocious 'Ndrangheta mafia organization from the Calabria region in southern Italy, had logged on to his Facebook account so often that police were able to trace the signal from his Internet key and find his hideout.


If only all criminals were this stupid.

6 comments:

Matt said...

It is interesting to see this article as it makes me think of how people tend to view the internet as an anonymous place where they can share their deepest and inner-most thoughts without having to give away their real identity. People seem to have this misconception that the internet is completely anonymous and that something they post from their computer can in no way be linked to them. I'll admit, I used to have this notion too in my younger days. Maybe it is not that criminals are that stupid, but really just that oblivious to the reality of the not-so-anonymous internet that we use. In recent years, I have been much more careful with what information I release onto the internet, as well as what 'fingerprints' I may leave behind -- I am pretty cautious now about private internet browsing or what I download.

Mary C. said...

This is humorous because it seems like it could be a segment on a late night show as a parody of the world’s obsession with Facebook. However, it actually sheds light on a positive advantage of the social networking website. The internet is obviously convenient, efficient, accessible, and has improved that quality of life in so many ways, but we have focused primarily on privacy harms and the dangers and threats in using the internet. Now that I am a less na├»ve internet user, I realize that I really do not have privacy on the internet and feel exposed. Regarding Facebook in particular, I wish I never made one, but after reading this I became a little more optimistic. Although not all criminals are this stupid, it proves that Facebook can be a helpful resource and can benefit even the police. Also, I received a message from “Facebook Site Governance” today; its a new componenet of Facebook that keeps users updated on the privacy policy as well as any changes and asks for feedback. This new addition is a step in the right direction, though it might not better protect users, it will at least notify Facebook users of any changes made and hopefully improve privacy tools.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a more stupid story where a burglar who, after robbing a house, checked his Facebook profile before he left. Unfortunately, he forgot to logout and was quickly identified. With these two cases, someone could empirically make the case that Facebook is a crime solver. And, in a way it is. The internet makes it easier to commit crime, but it also makes it easier to catch the criminals. Social networking sites are the perfect platforms to apprehend all manners of law breakers. Photos posted online of unlawful actions can easily be cached and used against someone. I am not sure if the FBI or police forces are doing this, but I am sure that if they shift through unfiltered Facebook content, they would find a host of “criminals.”

Katie said...

This article just goes to show how easy it is to track anyone down with technology these days. People think that if they make up a name like this criminal did or simply use anonymous as a name that they are safe to say or do whatever they want on the internet. Numerous horror stories like this one appear daily but it seems like people are not catching on to the fact that there is little to no privacy on the internet. I agree with Matt that it is not necessarily that criminals are stupid, it is that people in general think that they can keep what they do on the internet a secret if they want to.

Marisa Wiland said...

Networking sites are obviously a huge advantage for agencies like the FBI. Like Matt said, people forget how unsafe the internet is because people still view it as a medium through which one can communicate with others in a supposedly anonymous cyber platform. However, just because we can't see the traces left behind doesn't mean we don't leave cyber fingerprints all over the place. And networking sites, like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, just make it easier for agents to track and locate criminal users. This article is interesting precisely because it shows how unaware most people are; personally, if I hadn't taken this course or if someone hadn't specifically told me, I probably would be just as ignorant about the internet as Manfredi. For the 'average person' who has nothing to hide, this doesn't pose much of a threat. However, agencies such as the FBI are exploiting this as a way of reaching criminals at large. Take this article, for instance: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/16/fbi-facebook-crime-study. Here, FBI agents are creating fake facebook profiles and 'friending' criminals. Even though this violates terms of service, which would make this an illegal activity, I think it's one of the most useful ways in which the government can use networking sites to track criminals. Of course, one must also be cautious that it is not used to intrude into citizens' private lives. But if dangerous men such as Manfredi fall into the facebook trap and are caught because of it, then clearly the internet, and networking sites in particular, is an extremely valuable resource for agencies.

Yoon Joo said...

I think it definately proves how social networking such as facebook became so significant and common in our lives that even a mafia boss couldn't resist to join it. I actally really wonder what made him log on to his facebook account so often since I wouldnt expect him to have many friends to keep in touch with. Although it's a good thing tht the police could use it as a means to capture the criminal, but it also shows the vulnerbility of our privacy on social networking. I'm sure the boss had used the privacy setting to protect him from the public but that certainly didnt mean his privacy was completely safe as he believed.