Pretending to be someone else by creating a fake Facebook account is never a good idea, especially if you plan to use it for nefarious purposes. Just ask Stephani Renae Lawson, who was sentenced to one year behind bars on Wednesday for using a fake profile to frame her ex-boyfriend.
Orange County, California resident Lawson had spent ten months living with her former partner in his grandparents' house before his grandmother kicked her out for beating him up, according to the Orange County Register.
Not long after this, prior to September 2015, Lawson created a fake Facebook profile under the name of her ex, Tyler Parkervest.
Lawson used the fake account to send threatening messages to herself, telling the police that it was Parkervest who sent them. He was arrested four times between September and December 2015, and charged with “multiple felonies.”
Lawson’s eight police reports alleged that Parkervest violated a restraining order, threatened to kill her and her daughter, and that he would drive by her home when she was standing outside. The severity of the claims resulted in his bail being set at $200,000, meaning Parkervest’s grandparents had to put up their house as collateral to cover it, reports Vocativ.
In the days leading up to her ex’s preliminary hearing in May this year, Lawson sent more threats to herself using the fake profile. But the screenshots she showed prosecutors raised suspicions.
“One of my DA colleagues looked at it and said it doesn't look right and that triggered in our mind maybe we need to look into this further,” said Deputy District Attorney Mark Geller.
After issuing search warrants to Facebook and Lawson’s mobile service provider, T-Mobile, investigators discovered the messages supposedly sent by Parkervest had originated from Lawson’s phone and IP address. But Geller notes that it took “all summer” before the companies handed over the documents needed to clear the falsely accused man.
The charges against Parkervest were dismissed in October, and Lawson eventually pleaded guilty to one count of false imprisonment and one count of perjury, which are both felony charges. In addition to spending the next 12 months in jail, she was also sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay restitution.