Local News

Couple Goes Undercover Online To Track Teen's Use Of MySpace

Posted May 29, 2006

— A Wake County couple went undercover to find out how much information their niece would give to a perfect stranger on a Web site.

On the web, they asked questions about where she lived, who her friends were and where she would spend her day.

John Crusoe and his wife posed John as "Brad" on MySpace.com. They picked a random photo for the operation.

They wanted to find out what personal information their teenage niece -- who lived with them at the time -- would give a stranger online.

"Oh, we'd ask stupid things like, 'What are you doing today?'" Crusoe said. "She'd say, 'I'm going to Tara's house.' (We'd ask,) 'Where does Tara live?' (she would reply) 'She lives in ...' and she'd give us the name of the complex."

Crusoe said he was surprised because his niece is "actually a very intelligent girl."

They then tracked her for two months last fall and finally asked her to meet for a movie.

When she showed up, she was surprised.

"That was it -- she saw her uncle sitting there and it was jaw-dropping," Crusoe said.

Jack Vonder Heide is an expert on Internet safety. He sees the concerns of parents like the Crusoes all the time.

"There are all kinds of dangers with MySpace," Vonder Heide said. "We see telephone numbers in particular on MySpace profiles because children want their friends to call them by cell phone."

While many parents or guardians won't have to do what the Crusoes did, Vonder Heide says it's important for parents to know what their kids are saying online.

"It could have gone a lot worse," Crusoe said.

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