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Criminal Stupidity and the Internet

Updated on January 2, 2012
image courtesy of
image courtesy of

“Stupid is as stupid does.” – Forest Gump

A couple of days ago, CNN ran a story about a man and woman who posted pictures on Facebook of their two very young children (24 months and 10 months) gagged and bound with duct tape, which resulted in a flurry of reports to the police, the parents’ arrest and the removal of their children from their custody. “It was just a joke,” the parents cried. “The children were not hurt.”

I’m not going to discuss these parents’ ludicrous idea of humor, or whether or not this constitutes child abuse, or parent’s rights versus child protection. I’m not even going to speculate which was more traumatic for the children: being photographed bound and gagged by the people who are supposed to protect and nurture them, or being apprehended by the police and placed into the hands of the child welfare authorities – though the question certainly begs to be asked.

No, surprisingly -- even to myself (all things considered) -- my first thought on reading this story was: how could they be so blindingly stupid as to post such photographs on Facebook?

Even if you rate so low on the IQ scale as to think playing bondage games with your own babies is perfectly okay, why would you photograph such events? And then, having taken the photographs, creating hard evidence of your idiocy and lack of normal parental instincts, why, oh why post them up for the world to see?

Talk about stupid… Clearly it’s too late to protect the human gene pool with such remedial actions as forced sterilization, but all the same, I can’t help but wonder at such lack of judgment.

Surely they are an isolated example of such extreme stupidity, I thought, trying to comfort myself and dispel the vision of future doom and intellectual deterioration for the human race such senselessness brought to mind.

But, as research was to prove, they were not.

Maxi Sopo's Facebook page, displayed by Michael Scoville, helped investigators track him down in Mexico. Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP
Maxi Sopo's Facebook page, displayed by Michael Scoville, helped investigators track him down in Mexico. Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP

“Like” these amazingly stupid people on Facebook

Maxi Sopo

(2009 – U.S.) Fleeing the United States and an arrest warrant for bank fraud, Maxi Sopo made it across the border to Mexico and set up a comfortable life there. You’d think he’d have it made – Mexico, land of sunshine, tequila and pot, enough money for everything he needed, a chance to disappear – and apparently, so did he.

There are some who take to life on the lam, keep a low profile, change their names and appearance, wear disguises when they go out, move regularly, keep their mouths carefully under control. But not Maxi Sopo.

No, this gregarious social butterfly began updating his Facebook page with reports of his “paaarty!” life and his enjoyment of “living in paradise.” He even “friended” a U.S. Justice Department official – who helped the authorities locate and arrest Sopo, now facing up to 30 years behind bars.

Don’t bother “poking” Sopo. He’s in the pokey.

L'arresto di Pasquale Manfredi – Italian press, no attribution given
L'arresto di Pasquale Manfredi – Italian press, no attribution given

Pasquale Manfredi

(2010 -- Italy) Pasquale Manfredi had been on Italy’s most-wanted list for years in connection with several killings, including the assassination of a rival Mafia clan’s leader. Nicknamed Scarface and known as a “cold and cruel” assassin, apparently this hitman had a soft spot for Facebook.

So often did Manfredi update his status and interact on the site, police were able to track him down through an Internet key.

He was chatting on Facebook when the Italian police broke down the door to his Calabria hide-out and arrested him.

And in case you “friended” Manfredi, the police intend to scour his connections to look for other crime figures. I doubt if too many of those friends are “liking” him now.

Idiozia, cretino, imbecille, stupidaggines, stupido !!!!!

Craig Lynch

(2009 – UK) Craig Lynch escaped from a minimum security prison where he was serving time for theft. Another whose intelligence must be too low to score, instead of lying low, he continually updated his site posting photos of himself making rude gestures and mocking the police.

The police contacted Facebook looking for the IP address from where he might be updating the site. You guessed it; too idiotic to move around, the updates showed one constant ip address.


And yes, the rest of the story follows pretty much as you are expecting.

He was arrested and returned to prison.

He has yet to update his status showing pictures of himself sitting in his cell.

3 youthful offenders with no brains, one adult with even less and a Facebook update

(2011 – US) Two fourteen-year-olds, one seventeen-year-old and Isaiah Cutler (18) robbed a Pittsburgh market of more than $9,000. Oh, and they also stole candy.

What did they do next?

They took pictures of themselves holding the loot and, you guessed it, posted those photos on Cutler’s Facebook page.

One of the teenagers’ Grandma saw the photos, knew of the crime and called the police.

I can’t help wondering which embarrassed her more: that her grandchild was a thief or that he was an imbecile.

And now, on to my favorite stupid criminals on Facebook story: Jon Parker

(2009 – US) Jon Parker decided to rob his neighbor’s house. He formulated his plan: wait till no one was home, break in, grab everything of value and slip out again, unseen and untrackable.

He made quite a haul: two diamond rings, other jewelry, cash, some artwork… Oh, it was a truly successful burglary, no doubt.

Except for one thing:

He left himself logged in on Facebook on his victim’s computer.

Now, you’d think checking your Facebook page would be that last thing on your mind while you’re committing a burglary – wouldn’t you? But Parker’s priorities were different. He just couldn’t wait to check on his friend requests and their wall postings, or maybe he was in the middle of collecting all he needed on Farmsville. Who knows?

Needless to say, he was picked up by the police in record time and charged with breaking, entering and theft. He pleaded not guilty, but was convicted all the same.

I would have added a charge of criminal stupidity, if such was allowed under the law.

It should be.

Myspace (between my ears)

Facebook doesn’t have a monopoly on stupid people, just in case you were wondering. Myspace has its share. Here’s two such cases of what should be terminal stupidity.

Heather Ann Tucci

(2009 – US) You’d think if you were on trial for driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter, you’d let your lawyer do your talking for you. Certainly, you’d be smart enough not to admit your guilt on Myspace – wouldn’t you?

In an act of unprecedented stupidity, Heather Ann Tucci did just that.

On August 19, 2006 Tucci was drunk, very drunk, but still she not only decided she could drive, but offered a lift to three friends. She crashed her car. Heather Ann was unharmed, the female passenger in the front suffered minor injuries but the two men-friends in the back were killed.

Facing both a civil lawsuit and criminal charges (not to mention a potential jail sentence,) against all the dictates of common sense, and in a truly idiotic “so what?” attitude, Heather Ann posted the following rant on her Myspace page:

“I just want to let everyone know August 19 2006 Joe Renner and Joe Shafer died and me and Samatha were hurt. I’m sure a lot of you really don’t give a **** about me. Fine whatever you have your reasons I don’t blame you but really think about it. Both of them knew what they were getting in to. Yes it’s my fault because I was the driver but think about how many of you did what I did. … Now don’t get me wrong I take full responsibility for everything that happened, but when you sit and say everything your saying think about what you probley did the day before that or maybe that night. You all take that risk. I never though it was gonna happen to me and it did.”

Unbelievably, the judges (both civil and criminal) were not won-over to her cause by these words.

I wonder why.

I also wonder what choice words her lawyer had for her: Idiot? Cretin? Fool? He only heard about the on-line confession when the local paper called him and asked for a comment.

Stock photo -- not the actual posting. Myspace page for Pilkerton has been taken down.
Stock photo -- not the actual posting. Myspace page for Pilkerton has been taken down.

Michael Wayne Pilkerton

(2008 – US) If you’re into pot and growing your own, it’s not smart to boast about it on Myspace. Posting photographs of your green, leafy plants on your page is so beyond-not-smart, it possibly strikes a new low on the Darwin scale.

But that’s what Michael Way Pilkerton of Suffolk county, Virginia did. Perhaps he’d smoked too much of his own produce to think clearly.

Of course the police homed in on the post, set up a series of undercover buys from Pilkerton and then, arrested him.

I needed help to describe such a void of native intelligence, I looked for words more eloquent than mine. So here, dedicated to Michael Wayne Pilkerton of Virginia is a quote:

“Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.” -- Elbert Hubbard

Thank you, Mr. Hubbard.

Craigslist (a place to find everything, including stupid people)

Anne Marie Linscott

(2010 – US) Anne Marie Linscott from Michigan had a boyfriend. Her boyfriend had a wife. Anne Marie saw this as a problem. Perhaps she did sit down and weigh her options, I don’t know. Certainly, there are more than few. Here’s what springs to my mind:

  • Leave the cheating SOB and find a new love. (ranked highest)
  • Ask him to divorce his wife and marry you.
  • Confront the wife, tell all and let the resulting debris fall where it may. (not recommended.)

Or, there’s the option Anne Marie chose: get rid of the wife. Now, again there are a couple of ways to go here.

  • Kill her yourself. (strongly not recommended)
  • Hire someone to kill her for you. (very strongly not recommended.)

Ms. Linscott chose the second. Even here, there’s more than one way to skin the proverbial cat, but the way she went about it had to be the stupidest way possible.

She advertised for a hitman in the “Freelance” job section on Craigslist.

In this day and age of high unemployment, three people responded to the vaguely worded ad. Anne Marie explained that what she wanted was an assassin, offering the somewhat paltry amount of $5,000 for the job, and supplying all the pertinent details of her potential victim, requesting her competition in amour be eradicated.

Two of the three applicants reported their conversation to the police.

Anne Marie was convicted of a plethora of crimes and was sentenced to plenty of time to contemplate her own stupidity – if stupid people contemplate at all.

I’m at a loss for words and my Thesaurus is clean out of synonyms for stupid. I need to ask someone who is definitely not stupid for help.

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."--Albert Einstein

Click on this photo for a link to the original story from the NY Times
Click on this photo for a link to the original story from the NY Times | Source

EBay – (a word to the stupid: EBay is not the black market.)

Daniel D. Lorello

(2008 – US) Meet Daniel, a man dissatisfied with his style of life, a clerk who worked at the New York State Archives in Albany for 29 years. Completely understandably, his self-perceived meager wages just weren’t doing it for him. He pondered on a solution to his conundrum. He came up a plan. A stupid plan.

He stole some historic documents, a four page letter written by vice-president John C. Calhoun to one Charles Haines, a personal secretary to DeWitt Clinton, a two-term governor of New York, dated 1823; autographs from the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the first draft of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Then he sat down and put the second part of his stupid plan into the works: turn the stolen documents into cash.

He logged into EBay, posted pictures of the goods and started auctioning them off.

By the time the police arrested him, the Calhoun letter was up to almost $2,000.

Um – Mr. Lorello? EBay is not the black market – just so you know.

“The only way to comprehend what mathematicians mean by Infinity is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity." – Voltaire

Now that the Internet as a display case for our species’ stupidity is world-wide, you’d think these criminally stupid people would appreciate we live in an electronic goldfish bowl, that posting on-line is tantamount to walking into the nearest police station and saying, “Here’s what I did. Arrest me.”

Apparently, they don’t.

It seems I have constantly, continually and futilely continued to overestimate human intelligence. The research I did to write this article has educated me and disabused me of any such misconceptions. These are only a few of the thousands of examples, including some real doozies:

  • like the juror who “friended” the defendant;
  • like the car thief who posted a photo of himself on his victim’s page – from her stolen phone;
  • like the burglar who took a photo of himself with a stolen Nokia, uploaded it to his Facebook page and then dropped the phone outside of the house he had burgled;
  • like the drug dealer who Twittered what drugs he had available;
  • like the new-comer to town who posted an ad on Craigslist looking for marijuana –
  • Oh dear Lord, save us; the list goes on and on.

Reading this leaves me astounded we’ve survived as a species, let alone reproduced until we number 7 billion (which alone is evidence of our innate stupidity.)

But, from the viewpoint of law enforcement, perhaps this criminal stupidity is a good thing.

Though finding and arresting these criminally stupid people must be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Maybe we should all “like” that.

Lynda M Martin

January 2, 2012

Just for fun

Which of these stories scores highest on the stupidity scale?

See results

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