EVEN CRIMINALS ARE obsessed with the internet these days. This week there has been yet another fugitive on the run who was posting status updates on Facebook as he ran. It now seems to be “the done thing” for villains on the lam.
ESCAPED PRISONER 1: “Quick! Get disguises, find money, head for the border!”
ESCAPED PRISONER 2: “Sorry, I need to find an internet café to set up a Follow-A-Fugitive Facebook page.”
One of the most famous cases happened on my doorstep. Three years ago, a struggling couple who ran a gas station in New Zealand learned that the equivalent of US$8 million had been accidentally placed in their bank account by Westpac.
Leo Gao and Kara Hurring fled with the money and various relatives. The whole world was looking for them.
I was in Hong Kong on the day the news broke that Kara’s sister Aroha had apparently joined them and was writing Facebook entries which mentioned being a hot place, “drinking Tsing Tao” beer, and visiting nearby Macau.
Clearly they were in Hong Kong! Press reports crowed about how this “Facebook blunder” would cause “the net to close in” on the fugitives. But it didn’t.
Like the cops, your humble narrator spent the next few days scouring Hong Kong for smug-looking people who acted like they had several million dollars tucked into their handbags.
Unfortunately that description applies to almost all of the population of Hong Kong, including my neighbors and family members, particularly the penniless ones.
No-one found Leo and Kara. They eventually gave themselves up two years later, bored of Tsing Tao beer.
Talking of bad guys and Facebook, did you read that insurgents used location functions built into the website to find a secret US base in Iraq? Soldiers had uploaded pictures not realizing that they include photo-location information. The insurgents blew up four apache helicopters. I don’t think it was the loss of US$30 million worth of helicopters which really upset the US. It was the knowledge that small brown guys with turbans were better at Facebook than they were.
Then there were the hundreds of Israeli women who avoided army duty by claiming to be ultra-orthodox, according to a news report. The women told recruiters they were practically nuns—and then posted pictures of themselves on Facebook in miniskirts at trendy restaurants. Actually, these days nuns probably do wear miniskirts and win jiving contests at the Hard Rock Café.
Talking of attention-grabbing women, Oprah Winfrey’s boyfriend has just published a book about the importance of having your own identity.
Unfortunately every single person who has mentioned it to me has described it as “a book written by Oprah Winfrey’s boyfriend”. Anyone see the irony there?
Going back to the fugitives, it must be hard to type out status updates when one is on the run.
IT’S FRIDAY! Have a great weekend.