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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.

andrea tan June 19, 2012 at 09:25 PM
wow, people suck. it isn't even remotely funny.
OldTimeGilroy June 19, 2012 at 10:06 PM
When apprehended, the perpetrator should be deported to Singapore and repeatedly caned.
James Nelson June 19, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Do they not train Cops at the Academy the difference between "Cracking" and "Hacking"!?!!?!? Seriously. As a Hacker I take GREAT Offense to this misrepresentation! Barney Fife (SGT Cardoza) the difference between a Real Account and a Cloned Account would be the Identification Number being changed. For Instance, the Profile on Facebook for Sierra Lamar is 100001176414698. How do you tell the difference between a Original and a Cloned? The Number's will be slightly different. The same is true for ANY Online service which uses Numerals for Identification. Good thing you pawned this off to REACT, wouldn't want to Botch another Investigation! LOL Anyway, either Pull her Profiles from the Internet or Suspend them so people can't access them Legally or otherwise. Simple, right? Law Enforcement are enabling these types of Incidents by not making her Profiles inaccessible. Most people whom use these Services know the difference between a Original Profile and a Newer Profile as the Newer one will list a Creation Date and not Feature known Friends of the Original. For Slack Jawed Simpletons like Barney Fife, the presence of a Profile after it's been removed is obviously a Fake. Let this Saga finally be over!
Genevieve Bookwalter (Editor) June 20, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Sorry, I'm deleting this comment because this is a family website and we do not allow offensive language. Thanks!
Timothy Swenson June 20, 2012 at 03:35 AM
The press is not known for using the right term, esp with hacking and cracking. I tried fighting the same battle, writing to computer magazines back in the early 1990's and nothing ever came of it. I gave up because it was like tilting at windmills. It's just like like when I watch TV and the local news says to "log on" to their web page for more news. Since I don't have an account on their web page, how would I log on. It's the non-computer savy using words that they don't know.
Anne Ernst June 20, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Please keep in mind that while we are in Silicon Valley where there are a lot of computer savvy people, we also try to appeal to all people, even those who may not use the terms you do, or be as familiar with them as you are. And, please also keep in mind that we adhere to style guidelines. For instance, we do not capitalize things such as "Online" or "Numerals". Patch isn't a computer magazine, nor are the investigators. They use terms that work within their own vernacular, which doesn't always work within our own Patch vernacular. Police have to be very careful in how they word things, especially when working on difficult cases, because they don't want to jeopardize anything for a future trial. We, as a media outlet that reaches a wide audience, tries to phrase things in such a way that an average person can understand it. It's great that you can help clarify and help us understand your industry terms. I just ask that you keep in mind the audience and sensitivity of the case.
J. Conseco June 20, 2012 at 11:05 AM
What a waste of resources.
Energizer-Teacher June 20, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I completely agree. If she wasn't as pretty as she is, or as white as she appears, she would have faded from the news within the first 3-4 weeks after her disappearance. This is getting ridiculous.
andrea tan June 20, 2012 at 07:14 PM
if it were your kid, you'd want everything done to locate her.
James Nelson June 20, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Timothy, If I may be so forward... Will you um Marry Me! (Hey, it's the Bay Area and anything goes LOL) On a Serious Note, you are absolutely right and instead of attempting to set the Record straight which is supposedly what Professional Journalism is all about; They continue to use inaccurate Descriptions of Terms which they probably shouldn't use in the first place. At this point, it no longer matters because when anybody hears the word Hacker or Reads it they automatically think Cyber Terrorist! Still, I must call these "Professionals" out on their Unprofessional Written Conduct. And if people are really that Dumb or Lazy to the point where they can't do a simple Google Search to get Educated, the World at Large is more screwed than I previously thought.
James Nelson June 20, 2012 at 11:19 PM
I realize that Mainstream Media have Bastardized the Term Hacker to the point where nobody even understands what the Term really means nor do they really care as long as an App on a Phone can do everything for them. But this is a poor Excuse by Professional Journalists to keep things simple. I understand you have to dumb it down for the common people, but you cannot attempt to use the proper Terms and lead by example? I realize this may seem like an Attack on Miss Speckert especially since I've called her out on this prior. Two wrongs don't make a right! You know what it's like to be in a Public Setting having an Open Conversation with a Friend only to have someone nearby overhear you and automatically Label you a no good Cyber Terrorist? It's not fun, especially when Cops show up! (Some people shouldn't be allowed to have a Cell Phone. Snitches!.) Perhaps Patch can include a little Link to a Glossary elsewhere on the Site?
Analisa Harangozo (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 01:32 PM
The last comment was removed because it violated Patch's Terms of Use (http://www.patch.com/terms).
triple@family June 21, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Some said on a message board on Mecury news.com that they googled the adress and the house does have a red door, which is werid but it could be someone messing around! but i hope the police officers and detecives in this case do there job and take it serious and look into the house or the property you never know that could be a big lead! hoax or not they should look into it and then update the public! and as if it is a hoax ab=nd prank they do need to investigate a catch these people or person who is doing this! people who are hackers are usually nobodys and they are gamers and dont have a life! and are just plain out crazy that why they feed on others and are (creeps& Geeks). i just hope that they do find whoever is doing this and charge them with what it given for this act! It's sad bc now a days kids as young as 6 are on the computers and now what there doing, like what happened to the days when playing poutside and in the backyard and digging holes skating roller bladding bike riding , pogs, marbles where did thoses days go?? but then again, its scary out there with all these rapes and pretators and molistations going on thats why kids stay inside!!! not good where has this world gone??? so sad i hope they find her soon!!!
bruce June 26, 2012 at 12:12 PM
look at these dead end roads right near the point of abduction - fisher, laguna, richmond. (there a few others) somehow I don't think he used a body of water - the logistics would be too complicated, take too long. i'm an ex p.i. - i also have a little girl of my own - does anyone know if the areas around those dead end streets have been thoroughly searched? so far as I can tell from maps, those are quite secluded and nearby the lamar home.
Corinne Speckert June 26, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Hi Bruce, I'll contact the sheriff's office today and ask about the dead end roads. Thanks for the comment.
Publius June 26, 2012 at 03:28 PM
So...you never did clarify what exactly a "hacker" really is. I have always heard it used in terms of gaining unauthorized access... And I have always heard the word "crack" used in a good way, such as in terms of cracking some code, like during the Big War with the German Enigma machine. Please enlighten us. We want to be hip to the new lingo.
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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