MIAMI (CBS) — Imagine being bombarded by threatening emails or text messages on a regular basis, or finding out that someone has been posting disturbing photos or lies about you on the Internet.
Cyberstalking is a growing and dangerous trend that has many people living in fear.
“Cyberstalking is the adult version of cyber bullying with an extra fear component,” said Parry Aftab. “You never know if it’s your best friend or your worst enemy. It might be your ex, it might be your boss, it might be your neighbor who is angry with you.”
Jody Raines claims that she was cyberstalked by a man who she briefly dated. He was so upset when she broke things off that he took to the Internet, spread lies, posted video, and threatened her and her dog.
“He created a video that contained very disturbing images of a woman, a blonde woman, being strangled,” said Raines.
Claire Miller said her cyberstalker was a former classmate who allegedly posted an online ad claiming that she was a call girl.
“All of a sudden I got these phone calls and men visiting my apartment and ringing my buzzer,” said Miler.
Because the trend is relatively new, many in law enforcement don’t know how to investigate cyberstalking cases.
“Our law enforcement just don’t know how to handle these kinds of cases. They’re used to checking on burglars or looking for someone who has ripped off your car,” explained attorney Shari Veisblatt.
Carla Franklin said she met her cyberstalker in 2005 at a networking mixer. She said she now speaks to victims about how they can protect themselves. So does Jane Hitchcock, who managed to turn the tables on her cyberstalker.
“They love hiding behind the screen,” said Hitchcock.
Experts said that the best course of action is to avoid interacting with a cyberstalker. Block them on social media and file a restraining order.
However, they cautioned that the First Amendment makes prosecuting cyberstalking difficult.