Facebook Fights Crime

assistant-us-attorney-mic-001It seems lately that Facebook has become more of a superhero, capturing criminals across the globe. The popular social networking site caught a burglar in September, after the thief, Jonathan G. Parker, 19, of Fort Loudoun, PA. decided to check his Facebook account while robbing a home, and then left it open after he had left with two diamond rings.

This week, another criminal has been captured, and it’s all thanks to who the fugitive was friends with on Facebook.  Maxi Sopo,26, had been living the last few months in Cancun, Mexico after he had fled from the US.  According to prosecutors, Sopo who arrived in the US in 2003 after moving from his native country of Cameroon, and worked in Seattle’s nightclubs selling roses until  he moved on to bank fraud.  In late February of this year, he allegedly drove a rented car to Mexico after learning that federal agents were investigating the fraud scheme.

Sopo was “living in paradise” and “loving it” according to his Facebook status’, until Michael Scoville, assistant to the US Attorney’s office, got involved.  “He was making posts about how beautiful life is and how he was having a good time with his buddies,” Scoville said. “He was definitely not living the way we wanted him to be living, given the charges he was facing.”

Investigators searched all over the Internet, most specifically on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace and at first they could find no trace of him and were unable to pin down his location.  After a few months passed by, Seth Reeg, secret service agent, searched for Sopo’s name again, this time successfully.  His photo was described as him partying in front of a backdrop featuring various logos including  BMW and Courvoisier Cognac, while sporting a black jacket and beanie.  Sopo’s profile was set to private, however his list of friends was not. Scoville filed through the list and was surprised to see that one of Sopo’s friends listed a connection with the justice department. He then sent a private message to the unknown friend, requesting a phone call.

 “We figured this was a person we could probably trust to keep our inquiry discreet,” Scoville said.

Like many users of social media sites Sopo and the unknown friend, weren’t really friends but had met a few times at some of Cancun’s nightclubs and had no idea he was a fugitive.  Officials soon learned where Sopo was living and passed that information back to Scoville, who provided it to Mexican authorities, who arrested Sopo.

According to Scoville, he had been living in an apartment complex, working at a hotel and partying at Cancun’s beaches, pools and nightclubs.

Sopo is bring accused of creating a bank fraud scheme with Edward Asatoorians, who was convicted by a federal jury in Seattle last week. Sopo alone was able to scam banks over $2,000,000.  Asatoorians is likely to be expected to sentence at least five years in prison. If convicted, Sopo could face up to 30 years.

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