Numerous stories in the news can shake us to our core. Every so often, however, there comes a story that brings a smile to your face. Not because it’s uplifting, but because it involves a criminal so guileful or so stupid that it seems too strange to be true.
Facebook and the Fugitive
BBC News reported that Maxi Sopo moved to the U.S. from Cameroon in 2003. Initially, he made his living selling roses in Seattle until he found a far more lucrative occupation: bank fraud. According to The Guardian, Sopo collected over $200,000 in credit from various banks while employing various false identities. This new career allowed him to leave Seattle to resettle in Cancun, where he spent his days enjoying the sun and his nights enjoying the clubs.
Like most people in their twenties, Mr. Sopo was an avid Facebook user and eager to share updates and photos from the pristine beaches and posh nightclubs for which the city is famous. He was clearly enjoying himself and made sure to insist subtly that he wasn’t being supercilious in his posts. As reported in The Guardian, this was revealed by frequently using all capital letters to express himself. He was enjoying himself so much he began to be less than hesitant to make new friends on the social networking site. One of his newer Facebook friends was a former Justice Department official Mr. Sopo had met in Cancun.
Social networking, Mr. Sopo soon found out, is one of the first things any successful fugitive should abandon. Not long after the Justice Department official and some of his associates put two and two together, the Mexican authorities promptly arrested Mr. Sopo, and sent him back to Seattle. The Seattle Times discloses that he could receive up to 30 years in prison.
We do, of course, have ways to be vigilant against such people. You can guard yourself from becoming a victim of bank fraud through services like LifeLock protection or you can check your bank accounts daily and make sure that all transactions are ones you’ve made.
Now, there are less greedy bandits; people who pilfer more than steal. Such is the case with the “North Pond Hermit,” Christopher Knight. According to Salon, Mr. Knight had lived alone in the woods for 27 years. During this time, he had managed to survive in the rugged wilderness of central Maine by committing over 1,000 burglaries until he was finally arrested on April 4, 2013. He was caught in the act after Sgt. Terry Hughes of the Maine Warden Service set up surveillance equipment in the dining area of Pine Tree Camp. The Morning Sentinel explains that Sgt. Hughes apprehended Mr. Knight as he was carrying supplies from the camp at around 1:15a.m.
Mr. Knight was not stealing much, just the food, clothing and equipment from cottages and campsites that he needed to sustain himself. He was also fond of stealing books The Morning Sentinel, disclosed.
Mr. Knight’s actions were discrete—unlike Mr. Sopo’s. No one arms the security system at night out of fear of someone like him will raid the pantry. Rather, we worry about car and computer thieves, and protecting ourselves with identity theft protection services.
In a way, Mr. Knight’s actions are quaint because robbers are rarely after the contents of your refrigerator and bookshelves. Had he been stealing larger items, his victims would’ve felt far more violated.
To safeguard your home from being broken into and learn how you can protect your finances, Follow LifeLock on Twitter. You will find tips on how you can protect yourself from identity theft, bank fraud, tax fraud and home invasion.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison