High-Tech Task Force to Investigate Sierra LaMar Facebook Posts

Detectives will be working with the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team Task Force, which deals with high-tech crimes, to find the individuals responsible for the fraudulent posts.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office is enlisting the help of a special task force dealing with high-tech crimes to find the individuals responsible for the two posts believed to be sent from Morgan Hill teen Sierra LaMar’s Facebook account late Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

Detectives reached out to the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team Task Force (REACT) Tuesday morning because they’re tired of people interfering with the investigation by posting messages claiming to be from the missing teen. LaMar has been missing for over three months and detectives believe she was kidnapped by Antolin Garcia-Torres, who is currently being tried for her murder.

“Our detectives reached out to them primarily because this is enough already with these hackers and these persons doing these online hoaxes,” Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Jose Cardoza said. “It’s happened a number of times and we really want to prevent this activity from happening again.”

Cardoza said LaMar’s social media accounts were being hacked “at least once or twice a week during the first month” of her disappearance. Although the rate of recurrence has declined, fraudulent posts continue to happen, as exemplified in .

Monday’s post depicts an Instagram photo from a Facebook user with LaMar’s name and photo stating, “please call the police he’s coming back," along with an address for a home in Saratoga. In Tuesday’s photo the user identifies a man as her captor and requests that "someone call Breanna please" and continues to read "please someone call I have to go before he gets back..omg please."

Detectives don’t know if the two recent incidents are connected, who the involved individuals are or whether LaMar’s account was hacked or cloned.

“It is a possibility that there was a cloned account created, but it’s something the task force will look into,” Cardoza said.

The district attorney’s office, which oversees the task force, confirmed that REACT members are investigating the posts, but didn’t have any specific details available as of Tuesday afternoon.

Cardoza said the goal is to locate the person or persons responsible for the two Facebook posts so they can file the appropriate cases with the district attorney’s office.

Impersonating someone through a social media website is a misdemeanor under California penal code 528.5. General misdemeanors usually carry a punishment of no more than six months in jail or a fine of one thousand dollars, but Cardoza said he doesn’t know if the incidents would qualify as a general misdemeanor.  

Detectives have followed-up on every incident involving online impersonators in the LaMar case, and have yet to identify any suspects. The investigations, including the , remain ongoing, Cardoza said.

Patch editors Nika Megino and Zoneil Maharaj contributed to this article.

For previous coverage of the Sierra LaMar case, refer to the Sierra LaMar Disappearance: Comprehensive Updates and Information page on Gilroy Patch.

Timothy Swenson June 26, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Publius, When breaking into something, you are cracking it. A much older use is the term "safecraker". For encryption, like used in WWII, it is correct to use "crack" when breaking a cypher or code (code meaning an encryption algorithm). It was only used in a positive sense when the Government was doing it for war purposes. Not recommended to do personally. A "hacker" is someone that creates a "hack" or a slightly ingenious but possibly inelegant. solution to a software problem. For more info, I refer you to the book "Hacker" by Steve Levy, about some early "hacker" communities and the work they did with early computers.
Publius June 26, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Timothy, Thanks for the reply. I am willing to accept that hacker is a benign term among the in crowd. (Yo, what up, my hacker?) But it also does not help when Dictionary.com is telling me this (note especially definition 3b): hack·er   /ˈhækər/ Show Spelled[hak-er] Show IPA noun 1. a person or thing that hacks. 2. Slang . a person who engages in an activity without talent or skill: weekend hackers on the golf course. 3. Computer Slang . a. a computer enthusiast. b. a microcomputer user who attempts to gain unauthorized access to proprietary computer systems I would say you have your work cut out for you if you intend to change people's preconceived perceptions of that word.
bruce June 30, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Corrine, I understand that Sierra's clothes and cell phone where found between her home and the dead end roads i mentioned in my post. If you draw a line from the point of abduction (Dougherty) to the area along Hale Ave where her clothes and cellphone were found... and you extend the line,it points right over to those dead end roads fisher, laguna, richmond, possibly palm and on to bailey- (but bailey? i do not think this guy drove that far before attacking and killing her) I think they have to seach radius from the end of those roads and that's where you will find her, possibly covered with under brush...PLEASE HAVE THEM SEARCH THERE
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