A bogus tweet was sent from Sierra LaMar’s Twitter account on Wednesday, and it wasn’t the first time the missing teen’s account was fraudulently accessed. Sierra’s account was hacked a few weeks ago by someone in the Philippines, but authorities weren’t able to pursue the source because it occurred outside their jurisdiction, Sgt. Jose Cardoza of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office said.
The first hacking incident wasn’t disclosed to the public because detectives didn’t want the individuals behind these crimes to receive too much publicity, and subsequently take away needed resources from the LaMar case.
“It takes away from the primary focus in this case, which is to follow-up on creditable leads, locate Sierra and return her home,” Cardoza said. “Unfortunately, with the amount of publicity this case has received, there are persons out there who are not contributing in a positive way and this is something that we just have to deal with.”
Cardoza said authorities are prepared to file charges against the impersonator of Wednesday’s hacking incident if detectives are able to locate the source and track down the culprit in California.
If the source is located, detectives will pursue a separate case for Internet impersonators, which is a misdemeanor in the state of California under penal code 528.5.
“They have to knowingly, without the person’s consent, access the person’s social media account for the purpose of harming them, intimidating them, threatening them or defrauding them,” Cardoza said, adding that this appears to be the case with Sierra’s Twitter account.
Although investigators determined that Sierra’s account was accessed without the teen’s consent, they’re not ready to release specifics about how the determination was reached.
“We’re working on tracing where it came from right now—there’s some more follow-up that needs to be done,” Cardoza said.
Sheriff’s Office personnel are resuming search efforts for the missing teen today, and are currently . Divers will search any identified areas of interest, Cardoza said.