Court date set in Facebook identity theft case
A woman who thought she was connecting with a Facebook friend was actually being manipulated by a Woodbury man determined to mine her personal data, according to criminal charges filed last week.
Timothy Peter Noirjean, 26, is accused of hacking women's Facebook accounts faces 13 counts of felony identity theft. He was charged April 13 in Washington County District Court and is set to make his first court appearance on the charges May 26.
A 20-year-old woman called Oakdale police in February 2010 to report someone accessed her computer after posing as a Facebook friend. An investigation led police to Noirjean's residence.
In an interview with police, Noirjean allegedly admitted to hacking women's Facebook accounts, stealing photos and posting them on an adult website, but denied knowing that doing so was wrong. Police said Noirjean estimated he had gained access to or attempted to gain access to more than 100 accounts.
"This case highlights what my office has been trying to tell people: Be extremely careful when you do business on the Internet," Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said.
Each of the 13 counts against Noirjean carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Orput said prosecutors are taking a "very firm" position as the case moves forward.
"We will not negotiate on the 13 counts," Orput said, adding that the case will go to trial without a guilty plea to each charge.
The aggressive stance is a response to the number of victims in the case, he said.
"We consider this to be an egregious breach of privacy," Orput said.
According to a criminal complaint, the 20-year-old woman - who was 18 at the time of the Feb. 6, 2010, report - said she had been instant messaging someone she believed to be her friend, but bizarre things began happening after she logged off the social network service.
At first, she was informed that her password had been changed. After she was able to log in to her Facebook account the next day, the woman found a link to a website on a message from the person she had been messaging the previous night.
The link took her to a sexually explicit website which displayed three photos of her - images that had been stored in her email account. The adult website reportedly identified the woman by first and name and city of residence.
The woman, identified in the complaint as A.C.A., would later learn that she had unwittingly turned over password information during her online chat with the would-be Facebook "friend."
A.C.A. later reported more fraudulent activity on her Facebook account. Her friend, identified as K.L.B., reported that she had "friended" a person who called himself Steve Mills. That person sent her a link that crashed her computer.
K.L.B. later reported that photographs of her had also been posted to the adult website. The person purporting to be Steve Mills told her the link was to his website and that he would remove the photos of her - provided she send him a fully nude photo of herself. K.L.B. declined the offer, police said.
During investigation of Noirjean's computer, police found files containing photos of women and 235 email addresses with corresponding password information.
In all, police claim Noirjean accessed personal photos of eight women, whose images he allegedly posted to the adult website. Police also identified fine women whose Facebook accounts had been accessed by Noirjean and used to obtain personal information.