In an effort to exact revenge on an enemy, a former Drexel student created a fake online persona in their name representing the person as a pedophile online.
For that decision, Jacob Waitze, 23, of Southbury Connecticut, will be serving two years in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, Philly federal prosecutors announced after Waitze was sentenced on Nov. 1. Waitze previously pled guilty to cyber-stalking charges in connection with the incident.
“In taking on the victim’s persona online, Waitze used the Internet as a weapon to carry out his personal vendetta,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania William McSwain said in a statement. “By giving others the impression that this victim was interested in child exploitation, Waitze caused the victim a great deal of harm. Today’s sentence demonstrates that my office will hold cyberstalkers accountable when they misuse technology in this manner.”
Waitze had a “personal dispute” with an unidentified fellow student, and during the 2015-16 school year, went on “campaign of harassment and intimidation” that involved impersonating the victim online, using their real name, and claiming that they were a pedophile, federal prosecutors said.
Waitze included the victim’s real name, e-mail address, their photograph, and other personal details, like the fact that they were a Drexel student. On a variety of internet forums, Waitze made posts suggesting either that the victim was a pedophile in need of help, or was “someone interested in receiving child pornography material,” prosecutors said.
“The victim received multiple unwanted emails, both from persons who were offended by the posts and from persons who wanted to engage the victim in conversations related to child pornography,” federal prosecutors said. The case ultimately wound up being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), who quickly traced the postings back to Waitze – not the victim.
“HSI is hopeful that today’s sentencing provides the victim in this case a sense of relief after the months of abuse and harassment they endured at the hands of Mr. Waitze,” Marlon V. Miller, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Philadelphia, said in a statement. “HSI takes these crimes seriously and will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable cyberstalkers who cause long-lasting damage to the reputations of their victims for their own selfish gain.”
Drexel University did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the case.