A reign of terror has come to an end in Maryland, after authorities sentenced Brendan Spann to 30 months in prison pleading guilty to Federal cyberstalking. After serving his sentence, 30-year-old Spann, will be under mandatory supervision for three years. At the time of the harassment, Spann was a Department of Education employee. Spann didn't take too kindly to his relationship coming to an end and when his ex-girlfriend blocked his number in November of 2017 he turned to other methods to get revenge.
For almost two years Spann cyber stalked and harassed his ex-girlfriend, her family, friends, and co-workers. According to the Department of Justice, from "November 2017 to July 2019, Spann undertook a pattern of stalking, harassing, and threating behavior towards his former girlfriend."
According to the Daily Beast, Spann allegedly sent nearly 400 harassing messages to about 30 people connected to his ex after they broke up using a burner phone to avoid detection. At one point he even sent out a fake obituary.
Spann also took his frustration to the internet, getting stalkerware that is easily accessible online to continue his remote attacks. I should note that because stalkerware is so easy to obtain, that Google made an announcement today that they are removing it from their app store.
Spann's ex-girlfriend documented his behaviors towards her and her contacts, making several reports to authorities as well as her employer to protect herself. Spann was banned from her campus, so he tried to use his position with the DOE to gain access to the campus. His attempts were blocked by his supervisor who questioned his intentions. The harassment became so bad, that it caused some of the victims to lose their jobs. For that, Spann is ordered to pay each of their lost wages, in addition to serving time.
For those who are not familiar with the law, Cyberstalking is a criminal offense and is defined as the illegal use of electronic communication to harass or threaten someone with physical harm. At one time it was difficult to prove harassment and get a successful prosecution of cyberstalkers but now there are Federal laws in place that can help protect victims.
Under the American anti-stalking, slander, and harassment laws Cyberstalking is a criminal offense. VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act, is what made cyberstalking a federal interstate stalking statute. While VAWA has recently expired, 47 U.S.C. § 223 is the current US Federal Anti-Cyber-Stalking law. If convicted the punishment could range from restraining order to probation and if found guilty of criminal penalties the guilty party could face jail time. Under 18 U.S.C. 875(c)," it is a federal crime, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, to transmit any communication in interstate or foreign commerce containing a threat to injure the person of another."
If you feel that you have been a victim of cyberstalking or a cybercrime you can contact your local authorities or the FBI by visiting https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/cyber.