Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles are considering charging a woman with defrauding MySpace for allegedly setting up a fake account to harass a Missouri teenager who committed suicide after receiving cruel messages on the site.
A federal grand jury has subpoenaed the social network as part of a probe into the suicide of Megan Meier, 13, who thought she was communicating to a 16-year-old boy on MySpace, the Los Angeles is reporting.
Those messages turned out to be fake, sent out from an account overseen by the mother of a former friend of the girl.
Meier, from St. Louis, Missouri, hanged herself in her bedroom after receiving upsetting messages from a fictional boy, including one which said that the world would be better off without her. The case as sparked a national outcry, but Missouri prosecutors ultimately decided not to bring any charges, determining that no laws appeared to be broken.
Federal investigators in Los Angeles are now considering to place Lori Drew, the mother of a former school friend of Megan, with defrauding MySpace. They are also looking at federal wire fraud and cyber fraud statutes and have said that they have jurisdiction because MySpace is based in Beverly Hills.
The fake account was allegedly used by Mrs Drew, her daughter and a teenage employee to trick Megan into believing that she was communicating with a 16-year-old boy. Mrs. Drew told the police that she “instigated and monitored” the account to see what Megan was saying about her daughter but had denied about creating or knowing about the messages that led to her death.
In the wake of Megan’s death, demonstrators have protested outside the Drew family’s home and bloggers have posted their address and phone numbers on sites such as rottenneighbour.com. As well, the state governor, Mat Blunt, has convened an internet task force that has finalised a proposal that would make it a crime for adults to harass children via the internet.