Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Facebook Ruins Marriage

During a divorce, sometimes people who were once crazy about each other seem to just go crazy in an attempt to gather electronic data to use against each other. Sometimes this is accomplished by cell phone spying, or installing a keylogger, or setting an e-trap on social networking sites. Nowadays it's common for couples battling over custody to use the Internet to dig for e-dirt on their former loved one.

For example, a study by Loyola University warned that Facebook and other social networking sites can quickly damage even a good marriage. This online communication can spiral out of control and lead to "improper use." The study claimed that one in every five marriages are ruined by Facebook. According to American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, "Facebook holds the distinction of being the unrivaled leader for online divorce evidence with 66% citing it as the primary source." Over 80% of divorce attorneys reported "an increase in the number of cases using social networking evidence."

The Smoking Gun reported on one such spy vs. spy case that was filled with e-intrigue and makes a great cautionary tale. Angela Voelkert, 29, created a fake Facebook profile, pretending to be a 17-year-old named Jessica Studebaker. She then friended her ex-husband and chatted him up via Facebook messages in order to gather incriminating evidence to be used against him in a custody battle. Since she didn't want him to recognize her "style" of talking, she had a friend do the writing to her ex.

In fact, Angela really thought she had the e-dirt on her ex, David Voelkert, 38, after he confided in her about placing a GPS tracking device on his ex-wife's car so he could track her every move. He told "Jessica" that "you should find someone at your school ... that would put a cap in her a** for $10,000." After he added "With me gone with my kids, the police can't pin anything on me as I will be in another state, so I will be fine," Angela turned her evidence over to the FBI who arrested her ex-husband.

Yet in a surprise twist, in another Smoking Gun report, David had suspected "Jessica" was his ex-wife all along. Shortly after the supposed teenager had friended him, David had gotten a notarized affidavit saying he was lying to gain "positive proof that it is indeed my ex-wife trying to again tamper in my life." David added, "In no way do I have plans to leave with my children or do any harm to Angela Dawn Voelkert or anyone else." He kept one copy and gave a second copy of to a relative. Six days after his sworn affidavit was notarized, David made the "incriminating Facebook messages" to Jessica.

After the FBI arrested David Voelkert, he spent four days in custody. During that time, federal investigators interviewed the bank employee who notarized the affidavit. Then federal prosecutors dropped all charges against him.

TSG noted that the Jessica Studebaker profile with the a photo of an unknown girl remains on Facebook. The profile claims the teenager is employed at Subway and attends James Whitcomb Riley High School in South Bend, Indiana. She has 63 friends, including David Voelkert.