Pogo Love Triangle in the News

March 20, 2010 · 84 comments

Last night’s 20/20 on ABC (March 19, 2010) featured a story about an online romance that started on Pogo and ended in murder. The story of TalHotBlondbig50 and MarineSniper1000 started innocently enough, as a chance encounter in one of Pogo’s Teens game rooms, but it became a story of jealousy, murder, and deception. 20/20′s web site features a few articles that tease the reader to view the show, which aired last night, but so far the videos aren’t online yet. The teasers are in parts:

- Sex-Charged Cyberchat Spirals Out of Control
- Cyber Love Triangle Fuels Murder
- ‘MarineSniper’ and ‘Talhotblond’s’ IMs

We’ll post a link to the video of last night’s episode when it becomes available on ABC’s web site. The video clip embedded in the teaser articles includes a short clip of the riveting interview with Thomas Montgomery, aka MarineSniper, 46, who pretended to be 18 years old on Pogo.

This is more than just a story of love gone bad, it becomes so twisted at the end — you’ve got to either watch the video or read the whole story. Take a look at this Wired magazine article from 2007, which details the whole sordid affair from beginning to end.

In addition to the Wired story two years ago and last night’s 20/20 episode, there’s a documentary called “TalHotBlond“; it’s available on Amazon
for download rental, download purchase, or DVD purchase if you’re interested in checking it out.

A quick check of Pogo for user profiles matching these folks’ screennames comes up with nothing for MarineSniper1000, but non-Club accounts for Beefcake1572 (created in 2005, including profile information filled out including a link to his myspace page) and TalHotBlondbig50 (created in 2003, but with less than a million tokens and sporting a male mini). It’s eerie to see them still ‘active’ and publicly accessible.

What do you think of this story? After hearing about what happened, does it change at all how you’ll play at Pogo in the future? Leave your thoughts in a comment below.

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1 Susie March 20, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Lura, I was out last night and I can’t thank you enough for posting this. I can’t wait to see the entire story once it’s posted. This creep deserves what I can’t write here…and then some. Thank you for keeping us informed. I love Pogo and would never leave; that said, I hope and pray that this alerts and remind parents that allow their children to use their nicknames, etc., that there are jerks out there just lurking. I allowed my daughter to use my account (she was over 21 at the time) when Pogo came out with Scrabble ~ as she is a master at the game and loves to play. I created her a mini that said “Susie’s Daughter” on it. Sure she was approached…LOL I used to be a TD for a league and they’d hunt me down wondering why I wasn’t hosting and when I would host again. She’d just say, “I’m not KC, I’m her daughter…check the mini.” They’d leave her alone then.

Thanks again for the links. BadgeHungry ROCKS!!!

2 Pat March 20, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I always think about when I was playing with a friend, blues, in a card game and we had not made it private. A male watcher entered the room. He started asking leading questions to my friend (I think with Nana in my screen name, I was safe) and knowing shy blue, she was getting uncomfortable. He basically then asked me to leave so that he could chat with blues by himself. I am not shy. I told him that blues and I were a couple and had been for a long time, i was not leaving, but, would show HIM the exit. Within 10 seconds, he was gone. Blues and I laughed so hard, then made our room Private.

I find that when I play cards, I need to go in with a friend or play in a private room with bots. I have had the most oulandish things said if I leave the door open. I even had to change my original pogo club s/n when a stalker woudlnt let me be. he kept coming into rooms, using the whisper feature and stating sexual inuendos. Back then, my screen name was cyberbarbie and a few numbers followed–he confessed that barbie turned him on and I could not shake him loose. When pogo was unwilling or unable to help me, I threw all my tokens into the weekly drawing (won nothing) and chose a new name. It was renewal time anyway.

I did watch the 20/20 show last night and this was more willing participants that got out of hand. The going-ons in private chat rooms was cybersex on steroids according to the show. They featured pogo screen shots and detailed copies of chat which were obtained by subpoena. The show had a lot of twists and turns and is definitely worth viewing and to consider safety online. It also brings up the fact that all that is said in chat and private rooms is retrievable.

Lura and i discussed this show earlier and like I told her, pogo has featured pogo romances, pogo marriages, even pogo emergency aids, but i aint ever seen it feature pogo-related murder like this one in sept of 06 in buffalo, new york.

3 booboo March 20, 2010 at 2:08 pm

TNO-Trust No one. I see so many people in chat rooms carry on I’m actually not surprised by the story and am actually thinking their is more of these kind out there. It’s easy to be whoever you want to be behind a keyboard and it’s sad that people are so unhappy in their own lives that they resort to this.

4 Pat March 20, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Oh, just wanted to add that 20/20 has additional info on this murder, including interviews with the murderer, Thomas Montgomery and information on the 22-year old victim, Brian Barrett. I also googled Barrett and read additional articles on this. 20/20 also discussed legislation regarding the “tease” in this 3-some, Talhotblond, and this legislation would be to put some blame on someone who instigates hotility between 2 other persons, with a crime resulting. Just one more needed internet protection.

5 MomsBassetHound March 20, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Back in 2002 Jeff & I met a lot of people on Pogo that turned out to be nothing like they said they were. Since Jeff passed away I have always been very careful about what I posted in my profile and what I say when I’m in Pogo.
My profile only says that I live in Texas, not the city where I reside. Before I moved to Texas my profile stated that I lived in Brigantine, NJ. One evening I was in Pogo and the room was talking about what kind of cars everyone drove. I mentioned what I drove and someone in the room said….Oh, you live next to the Elks Club, I’ve seen your cars in your driveway. I just about fainted b/c that’s exactly where I lived. I changed my profile that night, and will never post what city I live in again.
I rarely chat when I’m in Pogo unless I know someone in the room. Usually I don’t say more than wtg, ty, and yvw. I’m probably more cautious than I need to be, but after what happened when I lived in NJ that’s just how it is.
I actually watched 20/20 last night and almost fell off my chair when I saw the sign in page for Pogo.
Suz

6 selina March 20, 2010 at 2:19 pm

I can’t believe I missed this cuz I watched the 1st half of 20/20 about a murder in SC, which is where I’m from….But, no, I don’t think it will have any affect on my playing on Pogo, I’ve all but quit talking to ppl in the rooms anyway, not that I don’t want to talk to strangers, just not too interested in chat right now, but…Pogo Rocks!!!!

7 Karen March 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm

I saw it and was flabbergasted.
On my profile, it says, “not looking for online romance,” yet some view this as a challenge. I’ve even had to write one guy a cease and desist note because he kept following me all over Pogo, even though eveyone knew he had a girlfriend he met on Pogo and in real life.
I did meet one nice man who was “separated” but one night I asked for his number and he suddenly had to go.
After last night’s 20/20, I’m thrilled the /mute * command exists.

8 Cindy4764 March 20, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Last night I was trying to finish my Pogo Bowl badge. I also had one eye on the TV, as you do, LOL. I was watching 20/20 and imagine my surprise when they started talking about POGO. What an entirely fascinating story it was, it sounded like one only Hollywood could dream up, it even had a major twist at the end.

I went to the 20/20 site after the show to find more info and discovered that that documentary, Talhotblond, had already been made and was an award winner. Apparently the story has also been optioned by a Hollywood studio, Paramount, I think.

I’ve always been cautious on the net, I know there are a lot of nutjobs out there.

9 Evil Queen March 20, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I will say that I have always been very careful about those online you connect with. I have many good friends I have made online from my moms groups but those are private and we all know we are who we have said we are. I did meet my husband online almost 11 yrs ago. We chatted for about 3 months or so before even speaking on the phone and then meeting.
And after reading that article from Wired all I can say is wow. It sounds like some seriously messed up people there who are suppose to be adults. Sadly I think people need to remember that there are many people on the internet that may not be in their right minds. All it takes is something said to have them fixed on you or something. I see how people get in some of these rooms with calling someone names or flirting around, to put it nicely, and in their profiles it says they are married or have a boy/girlfriend. I was in a room last night working on a badge and saw 2-3 guys talking about another guy calling him names and how he has a girlfriend but flirts around. Then I have seen things get uglier then that in some rooms. I don’t talk much in rooms myself. If I do its the same as some others that say just ty, yw and such.
I think it is a good reminder to many to just be very careful cause you do not know who you are always talking to on the other side of that compuer. If you are a parent you should be aware of all that goes on with your kids.

10 bob March 20, 2010 at 4:56 pm

This situation only goes to prove that some individuals should seek out professional help when dealing with their own interaction with others in cyber space and how quickly some can lose themselves on the world wide web. Also this should serve as a reminder to us all that as responsible people and parents we need to refresh our old school ways of checking what we ourselves and our children are doing on the net.

11 llinda871 March 20, 2010 at 5:10 pm

I didn’t see it, but will be looking at all info available, I’ve never been interested in chatting with anyone who’s eyes I can’t look into, you know, the windows to the soul? I only chat to recommend this site to people, but must say that some chats that have gone on in rooms have shocked me enough to leave. Facebook should NEVER be considered a safe place to spill your personal issues. And do you realize that all the search sites keep track of sites you search for forever and can and will be given to authorities whenever they ask for them? If you think you are anonymous just because no one can see you, think again! Predators are alive and well and their numbers are growing.

12 Margaret March 20, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Wow, I just read the article. Sure makes you wonder about people and what are they thinking!!!! jeez. I think that’s why I usually do not talk to anyone in chat. I just like to play the games and get the next rank badge (lol).
I have to agree with (#5) MomsBassetHound I do not include my city either. Oh and I am from Texas too (lol). Now if I do actually happen to talk to someone and they ask what part of Texas I am from than I will tell them.
All I can say it sure makes you wonder and to be very very careful.

13 Pat March 20, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I also wanted to say, you don’t even have to say a word. I have a 2nd account for my family, and it has a male representative, and my children and grands play in there. I was playing weekly challenges in there myself, thankfully. I got back to the home page and saw 2 entries signed in my guest book. They were from girls, but, not nice ladies.
They were openly suggestive of a sexual nature. One was from a girl that had berries in her name, suggesting the avatar try a piece of her pie. The other was even worse. I completely deleted them. The room I had played in had up to 60 people in it, I had not said a word to anyone in the room, but, perhaps they were checking out the avatar and talking in private chat to each other. I felt completely disgusted that one of my grands coulda found the messages.

You see the rule is that mom or dad has to find me, has to talk to me, has to know I will be in the room with the child to monitor all play, checks over child’s shoulder periodically to assure that I am still in same room with child and they havent strayed and checks back with me before closing. We put all the safety we can into the games, and yet the fools try to win. So sad.

14 Sal March 20, 2010 at 6:02 pm

I watched the 20/20 show. I was dismayed at the mention of Pogo. Most of the communication was in “chat rooms” and IMs.
The villains were 45 and 47 years old (playing and chatting in a teen room pretending to be teens). The victim was an innocent 22 year old.

None of them ever met. Except the 47 year old and 22 year old males were friends and co-workers long before any of the online stuff occurred. The 47 year-old was convicted of murdering his 22 year old “friend”. Although, he now says he didn’t really do it.??

I don’t know any way to protect oneself from crazy co-workers who might murder you. We have to work and have friends.

I wish Pogo had not received this negative publicity. The last time I saw Pogo in the news, on CNN, it was about a 70 year old woman who was online when her chimney fell on her and she could only ask her pogo friend for help. The friend, in a different state called 911 and saved her life. I like that story.

I have wonderful friends from Pogo. If anyone says something that I don’t want to hear, I mute them or leave the room. One fool said Newbee was a stupid name. So I muted him but he continued and other peeps were talking to him. Then a total stranger sent me a gift. A lovely background from the mini-mall to help me feel better.

I think for every jerk there are a lot more really fine people in Pogo Land and in the real world.

15 ptafter814 March 20, 2010 at 6:02 pm

He wasn’t marinesniper1000 on pogo he was and still is marinesniper80

16 ceecee1950 March 20, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Well I must be living in a dome, this is the first I heard of this and very surprised that no one in my family heard it either, because they surely would have given me a whole lot of lip about my time out here. Nobody will ever convince me to give up these games out here, i just love them. As this story was told it does not surprise me in the least, and i agree with the comment that there probably are alot more out here than you think. I also agree with these card game rooms, they seem to hang around these areas, and when i play with peeps, I need to know who or bots will do. I was made very uncomfortable by a perp and he had me undressed and flat on my back in minutes, and verbally was very visual if you know what i mean. I abruptly left, with his name of course and contacted pogo. He started to send me messages and was following me around. I finally blocked him from seeing where i was, and finally it ceased. There is nothing more uncomfortable than being stalked or talked to that way. I do believe pogo does there best to handle these complaints by there members. It just goes to show you that cyberspace is filled with alot of unstable peeps, and we all need to be on alert for these encounters. So if you have children its a wakeup call to you, there are some unsavory characters out there to freak you out…….

17 Kay March 20, 2010 at 6:46 pm

In reply to #15, Ptafter814, did you notice that date started for that pogo screen name is March 3, 2010? Interesting profile though.

I’ve met many, many people from the internet. I’ve been lucky. A few have sent up my “radar” and I always quit talking to them and blocked them as needed. I just always go with my gut instinct. I’m older now, lol so haven’t met many new people.

Very interesting article thought, and all through it I kept thinking to myself that would be funny if “she” was an older woman too. LOL, I always read the ends of books first, but didn’t read end of article first. Just found it amusing that I was right.

18 Me March 20, 2010 at 7:08 pm

hmmmmmm his [marinesniper80] profile was made March 3, 2010? I don’t think so …

19 Jillian(Jj5653) March 20, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Wow, I was stunned when I read about this! However, this is why I do not chat in rooms except for ty, yvw and gg (like MomsBassetHound #5). I usually play in a private room against bots, because I am not sure about the other person. I get a lot of grief from my friends when I tell them this because they think I am being stuck up. I am just being safe.

That is why I like sharing comments on this site because the people who come here seem very nice! Thanks for posting this!

20 NLinda March 20, 2010 at 9:02 pm

I had not heard about this until reading it here today and then reading the article. A saying that I use ocassionally came to mind when I finished the article ‘he/she is too stupid to live’, meaning I’m surprised they have enough brains to know how to breathe. I think they are both mental cases and from the sounds of it, the only one that had a lick of sense got murdered!

It definitely drives home the fact that you never really know who you’re talking to in a chat room and a good reminder to play it safe and don’t divulge personal info.

21 Esqué March 20, 2010 at 9:12 pm

The doc is available on amazon.com for purchase or for download if anyone’s interested.

22 Wolfe March 20, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I wish I could say this surprised me, but after seeing some of the comments, suggestions, and outright stalkers in the uncensored rooms . . . I’m not surprised.

Please keep us posted if the links to the video become availiable.

Wolfe

23 adeliegerbers March 20, 2010 at 9:51 pm

This is so horrible. I was in a room today where two men were fighting and the second guy gave out the 1st mans IP address, his real name, and where he lived. It freaked me out that people playing on Pogo can access this information. I left the room wondering did he have the same info on me? I never use my real name in Pogo. From what I could gather, the 1st man never talked to or met the 2nd guy. It’s all just so sad and disturbing to me.

Lura, I didn’t see 20/20 last night, but want to THANK YOU for posting this. Pogo ran ads about the couple who met and got married after meeting on Pogo, I can’t help but wonder why they didn’t share this with their subscribers as a warning to be careful.

This story just breaks my heart.

24 DebbieSLP March 20, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Can’t be too careful online, I learned that when I was a divorcee and chatting with people on various sites — mostly music fan sites. I wasn’t expecting to find people to date, just enjoying the camaraderie of some online communities. I eventually met a handful of people I had chatted with for over a year, most were exactly who they said they were, only one was not. Four years later, a few of those people are still friends.

Oh, and I did meet my husband online. We chatted/IM’d and spoke on the phone for about two months before meeting for coffee. Then chatted again for another few weeks before meeting for a “real date.” If you had told me five years ago I was going to meet my future husband in a chat room, I’d have called you crazy!

I think positive stories far outnumber negative ones, but again, caution is key. Play safe, everyone.

25 Sue M. March 20, 2010 at 9:58 pm

This incident happened in my community. They worked at a local warehouse type place. Thats where the shooting happened. My niece Tina and nephew Arnie, went to school with the boy that was killed. Thats why Tina was on the show talking about it. They wanted a girl to interview as they had enough boys to talk. It was a tragic event.

26 marie March 20, 2010 at 10:16 pm

I cannot believe anyone would give personal information out over the internet . You never know who you are talking to . I have been in Pogo over 7 years and talk to everyone . I do not accept private chat offers . If they can,t say what they have to say in public , they have no business saying it to me !!!

27 ptafter814 March 20, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Yes Kay I did notice the date but I taped the show and paused it so I could get his name and that’s what it was…it’s all very interesting on the date and even his mini is a woman so go figure and relationship is listed as complicated. Could he have left Pogo completely and then registered with the same name March 3, 2010? He had to have known that people would be looking that up. It’s just a shame that an innocent boy lost his life over something that I consider stupid and I think the boy was the only real adult in this whole thing.

28 Gecko March 20, 2010 at 10:49 pm

I think Pogo is no different than any other interaction where you don’t really know the person… I mean, I met boy through friends in person and he ended up being a crazy psycho. I guess the way I feel is that, unfortunately, this day and age you have to be careful of everyone in every situation. I freely chat and share details of my life, but I am also very aware of being too specific. To me, it really boils down to common sense. You really just have to be careful.

29 Pat March 20, 2010 at 10:57 pm

It is chilling to look at the profile, yet the date still bothers me–I know in some prisons, inmates have access to a computer, but not sure how he could have changed the date..unless it is a plain old fake he had someone make.

30 Lura March 20, 2010 at 11:09 pm

The 80 screenname was not his original screenname, it was probably an account created at the time of video-editing for the purposes of showing “his” screenname on the Pogo site for the show. All references I’ve seen list it as the 1000 screenname, which doesn’t exist to the general public at Pogo anymore.

31 Mia March 21, 2010 at 12:29 am

I was working on my Mahjong’s Garden badge last night while watching dateline.. I usually switch between dateline and 20/20.. Someone in the room had mention a story of a love triangle that started on pogo.. I switched over to 20/20 but the remainder of the show mentioned nothing about pogo.. Didn’t really think it started on pogo until I came on BH today and read the article from wired magazine.. I also had to take my dogs out for a walk before 20/20 ended and did not know that the “18 year old” was actually 47.. I don’t understand why she did not get charged in any of this.. No she didn’t pull the trigger or kill that young man.. But she lied and played mind games with both of them.. She is just as responsible as that marine guy.. She could have ended all the lies but instead kept going on with it.. I am also surprised that I have never heard about this until Yesterday..

I rarely ever chat in the chat rooms.. I too also say gg or wtg.. but have to be in the mood to chat it up.. I am 24 yrs old and I still don’t give out any info.. and when the weirdo’s (as I like to call them) come into the room and start blabbing on.. I just simply ignore them.. When I play Monopoly is when the most drama starts over people not accepting offers.. So lately I have been turning chat off.. Just hope this story teaches others not to trust everybody because you don’t know what is behind the screen.

32 Susie March 21, 2010 at 12:30 am

Having my city/state on my profile, I’ve met many friends from my neck of the woods. After reading these comments, I’m going to change my location RIGHT NOW. Thanks all! <3

33 Kevin B. March 21, 2010 at 2:24 am

Sad story, but it’s hardly unique to Pogo. I half-watch, half-ignore the chat at Pogo, but the thought never leaves my mind that anyone behind a keyboard can misinterpret anything I type. So, I don’t say much and if I need to catch up with someone, they’ll know me and we talk privately.

Otherwise, it’s just “gga”, “tyvm”, “hagd”, etc. Thank you for posting this story, Lura.

34 sog March 21, 2010 at 2:37 am

Two adults starting this insanity. The whole time they each knew what they were doing. And then the fella that got killed. 22, not a boy, a man. And he was totally involved too. Heck, he and the female worked together to slander/libel MS1000 in his community. THREE cuckoos in my opinion.
This is an incredible story. And most interesting thread.
Mostly, I am pissed off at jessi’s mom – for she is ‘jessi’. For at least two weeks MS100 told her he was going to do something drastic, irreversible, deadly. She made her daughter a target, knew she had, and did everything to keep the stupid phoney love triangle going. Disgusting.

35 Sheljin March 21, 2010 at 3:09 am

I never watch 20/20 but had the channel on for a few minutes by accident last night – now I wish I had paid attention and left it on. I had not heard of this, and will be reading the links later on. I have always been extremely careful with private information on Pogo because of an experience I had in an old Compuserve soap forum years ago. As happens, you find people with similar lives, interests and a bunch of us became friends. Compuserve’s forums were really easy to use back then & easy to keep and follow conversations. Anyway, at one point, a new person came into the forum and it turned out they weren’t really new at all – just new to chatting, they had been reading for months. Well, duh to all of us – this was a pretty new thing back then – but I guess I hadn’t really thought about all the nameless “others” who were really a part of all our forum conversations too. As far as I know, she was a nice woman – but she was completely obsessed with me – like I had a “fan” of my own. lol Nice or not, it freaked me completely out…..I never gave too much away in that forum anyway, but I totally locked down after that.

I live in Jersey, never give my city either. I remember early on someone else asking me where I lived in Jersey, since they lived there too. I said I never give out the city (I will on occasion give out the county). Another woman whispered to me (this was before private chat) and congratulated me on not giving out the info and just re-affirmed it was always better not to over-share. I appreciated the comment at the time – felt like women looking out for other women.

Most of the men I talk to in Pogo seem not to get that its a big deal – I mean the nice guys. lol I do wonder sometimes if men just feel more “safe” in our society and culture. I have never used my real name in Pogo, though have shared it at times privately with people I have become friendly with. However, once a friend slipped with it in public & those stalkers I have referred to in other posts would make fake Pogo names with my real name, or just use it whenever they felt like it. I have to say I’m happy to hear some feel Pogo has been helpful in this regard – in my case, no. It didn’t matter how much reporting, screen shots, emails I sent – they never did a thing to the people who were doing it.

I have only once given out my real address to a person I met on Pogo. I had “known” her online for 3 years, she was someone who had actually shared way more real life info online than I ever had. We spoke on the phone. I considered her a good friend. But, even after years of “knowing” her, when some guy she was interested in started trouble with a bunch in the room, she turned on me over a stupid pogo possibility of romance. To this day, I can get upset sometimes, thinking she has my address and did she give it to that guy, or anyone else?

So….right or not, I have totally removed myself from the idea of ever really trusting anyone I meet on Pogo. However, it doesn’t mean I don’t chat. I always try to chat – just not too many people seem to do so anymore – and maybe I’m starting to see why. I love the camaraderie & I like meeting & talking to new people. I just tend to take things told to me with a grain of salt. And I have had some people upset that I don’t “trust” – but, oh well, I have to do what I have to do.

Sadly, unless I am playing for ratings points, most times I play 2-person games with the bots as well. I have had some really nasty interactions with strangers at a card table. One guy was SO graphic – I asked him to stop several times – not interested, etc. It was actually like I was not even there, he just kept typing along. I wasn’t going to let a pervert rob me of my ratings points, so I finally just turned off my chat without telling him. lol lol Once I won, I left. Sometimes I think he probably didn’t even notice….. My friends have my p/w, so they know they can come join me anytime they want to – otherwise, I play it alone. And if I truly just feel like playing alone, I just use a different p/w.

Sorry for going on so long…….it just is such a big issue, I think. I also think Pogo doesn’t do enough to protect its members from these types of things.

~Shel

36 Melissa March 21, 2010 at 6:28 am

I have been very careful about putting out information as to where I am located due to the fact that I had a scare a little over 10 years ago while I was in a chat room in yahoo. Ever since then I have been very vague about where I actually live and don’t put the name of the town that I live, just one that I live near. If I am ever asked where I am from, I just mention the province/state that I am currently in so that there is very little chance of people finding me.

37 Hels March 21, 2010 at 8:30 am

Such a sad story of what happens when you go online with your brain switched off AND looking for a certain type of “fun”. I have met good thirty people in RL by now who I originally met online, and each and every one of them turned out to be exactly who they said they were, but then again they did not come from chat rooms but from very strictly moderated forums. And I would never have considered talking to people with screen names like Hot blah blah blah or Beefcake or whatever.

38 Dannie March 21, 2010 at 8:54 am

I saw this during the trial on Court TV (now TruTV) and kept wanting others views of it at that time but even on the Court TV Discussion Boards there was little talk about Pogo. One of the games they met in was Texas Holdem and it made me feel a little better to know that it wasn’t anything I was playing til they brought up that there were other games. It made me wonder if somewhere Pogo has all our chats somewhere that could be searchable for screennames in the future because nothing like that was brought up at the trial.

39 Pat March 21, 2010 at 9:20 am

You know it is odd calling this a Love Triangle. In retrospect the only one I see that was loved was a fictional young Tommy and that was by the real Thomas, yearning for his youth. I think the tag line on 20/20 was something like sex, lies, and cyberspace. That hits a little closer.

40 rabbitandkitty March 21, 2010 at 10:07 am

wow that is extremly shocking,but ty lura for post this shocking and disturbing article.thing with being on such sights people can be who ever they want,tell u what you want to hear.you have to be so careful these days.has this been posted on pogo if not it should be it surprising how many people are drawn into to peoples lies and stuff.it be a good warning to e1 to read this on pogo,ive lost coun t on catching out people with their lies,but some people dont see it,i think this be a very good warning to see in poger community news cause n ot e1 knows about this site and may not know about this

41 Janet March 21, 2010 at 11:26 am

i saw the show on 20/20 the other night and couldnt believe my eyes…..this is one sick twisted mother to do this using her daughters pics and acting like her…this whole story makes me really really careful on who i trust or talk to on pogo now….and the fact that they are still on pogo amazes me……that poor young man had his life taken away only because he loved someone….we have to get together as a group of good people and protect pogo from this if we can…..im so thankful i dont have young children to worry about being on pogo…pogo is suppose to be a safe safe place…but then again it is the internet right?…..god help us all and keep us safe….

42 Jen March 21, 2010 at 1:38 pm

I wasn’t aware of this being on 20/20 last night, so I didn’t tune in. I wish I had known or I would have. I wish there was something Pogo could do about these types of people.

I actually have a stalker here in Pogo. I’ve been able to get rid of him myself, but he still comes around. I just don’t talk to him. But, I have a bunch of friends that are falling victim to him. I’ve been trying to worn a bunch of people about this person, but I’m afraid something will get hurt by him. Pogo hasn’t done anything about it, but change my Pogo SN for me. Is there anything Pogo can do about these types of people?

43 Kat F. March 21, 2010 at 4:15 pm

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the articles and the posts above…didn’t see the show. But sure got enough info just from reading! Horrible, absolutely horrible!! And for WHAT?? WHAT??

This sickens and disgusts me so much! But saddens me more than anything. People will do ANYTHING to get attention. I’ve seen it happen in the chat rooms there at Pogo and other sites. You all have too. Whether it’s to start a fight or to get someone to react to a disgusting sexual reference about their screen name. Seeing men (and I use that term loosely) enter the game/chat and immediately ask “if there are any “sexy women” in here?” Or some such nonsense— makes me crazy! And then there are the ones that actually ANSWER!! What is wrong with people today??

I HAVE played in the Teen Rooms only because there is always room in there. They aren’t as crowded. But do I talk to anyone? NO!!

I hardly EVER chat. The reasons are varied, but are what alot of you have already said–I like to be face to face with the person I’m speaking to, being the main one. Plus, I DON’T KNOW ANY OF THE PEOPLE PERSONALLY…ARE THEY SANE, INSANE, CREEPS, JERKS? You get the idea, right? Because alot of them sure act like they fit in one of the above categories.

AND, I DON’T LIKE ANYONE I DON’T KNOW TO ASK ME PERSONAL QUESTIONS EITHER!! Why do people have to ask a purely personal question after all you’ve said a WTG to them? Just like everyone else did…but they pick you to ask the question? Strange and scary I think. My profile is public, but very guarded. Not much on there that anyone could use to find me….guestbook, gifts, all that is turned off. FB is definitely turned OFF!!

I am not unfriendly, rude, mean or anything like that. Yes, I will join in and comment when a player does good or join in on a conversation when a player is seeking information….But talk about my personal life? NO WAY!! YOU SIMPLY CANNOT BE TOO CAREFUL THESE DAYS. DOESN’T MATTER HOW OLD YOU ARE OR WHERE YOU LIVE! THAT IS A SAD BUT TRUE FACT OF LIFE! :) Today and into the Future too. :(

It’s ESPECIALLY true for our children and young adults. :( They must be so much more careful and aware than I did when I was growing up and I’m NOT THAT OLD. Sad, sad.

Yes, I have “friends” at Pogo. But do I REALLY KNOW them? Not really…My “friendships” are all based on enough contact with them to know that they are friendly and they’ve NEVER said anything unkind or behaved in anyway I didn’t appreciate towards me or others in a room. That is what I call a chat “friend”. That’s all I need. Not looking for anything else!

Well, looky, another Weekend Thread Novel–sorry about that! But this is such an important topic! I wanted to share my views about what I think of chat rooms, how I might choose a Friend and also how I felt about this truly tragic story. Certainly do PRAY hard that each of my fellow BHers will council their Friends and Family, young and old, about the true dangers of the Internet–NOT JUST GAME CHAT ROOMS.

Thanks for the info Lura…as always, you’ve done a great job of keeping us informed. Wish to thank everyone else who’s posted…appreciate and respect your point of view too. Agree with alot of it. :)

Love my Pogo, stay safe everyone. :)

(((Hugs to ALL))), Kat F.

44 Pat March 21, 2010 at 4:51 pm

I went to the pogo forum to try to find a topic on internet safety. I didn’t see one, but I did get sidetracked on the things people want for their avatars in the mini mall (jewelry, more shoes, hats not attached to particular hairdo, military uniforms, and the ability to put a couple on the profile, rather than a single person, etc). Anyway, my conclusion was that this is so much more important than all that. There should be a forum on internet safety that can tell you what pogo will and will not do, what you as an individual can do (in 2004, they were not willing to change my screen name, so hope it is true that they do that now).
It should inlude discussions of stalker issues, unwanted comments, etc. There may be one, I just havent found it yet. Let me know if anyone finds an internet safety thread, as I would love to read pogos stand on the issue.

45 Shelly March 21, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Pat #44 Try searching MsNetiquettes’ archives. I’m sure I have seen her post about internet safety more than once.

46 Pat March 21, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Shelly #45, ty, I have read some of these and they mostly are how to keep safe and are helpful. I was referring to what they will do if you find yourself in an unsafe position..do they sanction, suspend, etc and do they in fact offer new s/n? I know the block features have helped alot and the block-unless-on-friends-list is a very great feature. I do see them making strides. I just want to know if someone enters a card game and spouts their own agenda that pogo has a policy on this..and what that may be? The more i am on, the more safety-oriented I am, i just would like to know if pogo has an official policy on handling those who cross the line, i guess.

47 sog March 21, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Pat #44 – Well I tried a search in pogo forums ‘internet safety’ (check ‘as is written’). Seems there r more than a few threads on the subject. Of course this wont tell tou what Pogo has to say.
The only things I can think of that I’ve seen on this: 1> in the “hint” shown as you enter any game room, the one that says ‘never give out your pogo password to anyone’ , and 2> in Ms. Netiquette. At the bottom of any of her pages is an area of frequently referenced columns, on of which is on internet safety.

48 Eric March 21, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Also, the young, male victim…Was he playing along with the older woman’s ruse, or was he legitimately in a relationship with her?

Because I believe that she should also face some consequences for engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a young man and also for inciting violence among two individuals.

I also find it interesting how addicting the Internet can be. I would encourage anyone who plays Pogo to make sure you take some time for yourself, your family, and non-computer related hobbies. Make sure you enjoy the nice weather when and if you can. Take some time to treat yourself and/or your family/significant other to a nice meal at a favorite restaurant. Grab drinks with friends and reminisce. Don’t let Pogo become your life…

Because then it makes it so easy to create these false personas and fantasy worlds where reality and fantasy get blurred…

49 sog March 21, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Pat #46 – EA Terms Of Service. (Very bottom of any pogo page.) Sections that most directly apply here are probably:
IX
X
XI
XII
XIII
1
8
9
10
I hope this helps. I have a pogo friend who is stalked. You’ll notice Section IX applies specifially to children.

50 Sheljin March 21, 2010 at 8:35 pm

I agree with Eric #48 & others that the woman should have somehow been held accountable too. Also, how does her daughter feel about this? We hear that the man’s daughters want nothing to do with him anymore. I cannot imagine the feeling of having your own mother use your name and pictures to pretend to be you, AND to be an instrumental part to a murder. Very very sad.

Online can be very addictive…..I know. It makes sense to fight against that feeling as much as you can, so you don’t let your real life suffer.

I’m sorry to hear about all the people who have had some stalker & other intrusive people issues. I would like to see Pogo become much more proactive about identifying these people and banning them permanently. I am not very computer savvy – so, for instance, I don’t know if it is possible to ban someone’s IPO address? Or if that would even help keep people off?

Right now, if Pogo gets around to actually permanently banning a name, nothing stops that person from turning right around and starting a new name/account. I have seen it at least 5 times with one horrible woman. She, of course, knows how to find the same people she harasses: she has their names, she knows which game rooms they like to frequent, etc. What happens, however, is that the victims have no idea that their harasser now has a new identity, or what that identity is.

I suppose being able to block certain people, or being able to have only your friends find you are steps in the right direction. But, for me at least, they are more about limiting ME. I have met many people in my 7 years on Pogo; if I block anyone but people currently on my friends’ list from seeing me, chances are that old friends would never be able to find me again. So, I keep myself able to be seen by everyone. I do block known trouble-makers……….but I’m completely aware that those troublemakers can see me easily enough with another anonymous name.

I know Pogo loves people to be able to access their site easily and quickly, but I think it is time for Pogo to insist on more verifiable personal information needed for registering for their site. If they have just banned someone, perhaps they shouldn’t be willing to have that person back on as a different name just to get their hands on another 40 bucks. Just my two cents.

~Shel

51 Pat March 21, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Ty all for your answers, i will be doing some reading. I appreciate all your help. Having been a victim of a cyberstalker in the past, I am curious as to what services are available. I know pogo has some safegaurds and sanctions in place. I guess after reading this long thread, I would like to know what they are. Again, ty all for providing the areas to read and to others as well that may be interested.

52 MomsBassetHound March 21, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Sheljin #50 – The daughter (Jessi) no longer speaks to her Mom (Mary), and Mary’s husband divorced her. She has changed her appearance and has gone back to college.
Tom’s wife divorced him and his children no longer speak to him either.
Brian never met Jessi/Mary in person, so was unaware that he was not chatting with an 18 year old girl.

Mary can not be charged with anything with the way the laws are written. They did mention on 20/20 that they are trying to pass laws that would enable people who do what she did to be held responsible.

Suz

53 Gecko March 21, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Reading some of the growing posts here make me really sad. Obviously as I said before, you have to be careful, but hearing people say they’ll never chat or don’t chat just seems like why play online then vs a game just on your computer?

I read over this very tragic story and what I see is two really messed up adults being idiots and one younger male pays the ultimate price. Do you let the messed up people in the world ruin it? No! Look at all the lies and manipulation and clear mental health issues presented in this story – one small intervention somewhere along the way and we’d never hear of this story. I’m not saying that stalking and the like doesn’t happen – IRL and online. Been there myself, but I’ll be darned if I will let it take over my life.

From what I’ve heard Pogo, like a lot of sites, does protect the victim of suspected abuse and will even transfer all your tokens and badges to a new name per your request. As Ms. N says, “Report, report, and report.” If I see anything I question, directed at me or not, I hit the report – at least someone in CS looks at it. I called the police when I heard the couple next door beating on each other – why should Pogo be different? We observing users have responsibility too and we can make Pogo safer, just like a neighborhood watch. Ok, off soapbox! Do take care everyone.

54 nessa March 21, 2010 at 11:32 pm

So sad, but all this story doesn’t surprise me at all and I’m sure there’s a lot of similar cases going on in pogo and other sites. Why am I not surprised? Because it’s so easy to hide behind a screen and make up a new identity or several for the matter, I even know about this girl with 4 or 5 different screen names in pogo (that I know of) and all with diff. profiles (age, occupation, place, etc.) and of course each one with different posts from different lovers. Because of all this and the fact that I’m not at all interested in any internet relationship, I don’t trust anyone but 3 persons in Pogo, my friends list has lots of names on it but just 3 are really my friends, others are just ppl I met. That’s why my profile says what I want them all to know about me but no personal info at all, not even where I live, it even says “don’t ask anything else, ur not going to get an answer”, and also, that’s why I hardly talk while playing and whenever is possible I play in private rooms against bots, bots play faster and don’t talk.
I hope this story will help people to understand that there’s a lot of bad people out there lying and flirting around and may it help them to be more careful.

55 NLinda March 22, 2010 at 12:03 am

What I am more or less reading between the lines here is that a lot of folks are looking to Pogo or other sites to protect them. I agree that Pogo etc. do need to work with people if they are having a problem, but the case this whole thread is about was ‘self perpetuated’ and I don’t see where anyone but the parties involved could have done anything about it. As mentioned in previous posts, there’s only so much a site can do, people that are booted just change their name and continue their games. None of us would appreciate it if a site wanted to do a background check just so we could play games or chat! Though we would all like to live in a perfect world, that’s not going to happen, so we just do the best we can with what we have to work with.

56 Terri March 22, 2010 at 1:44 am

the correct pogo names are as follows… the wrong names will hurt innocent people.
beefcake1572 – profile matches
MarineSniper80 – profile matches
TaLhoTbLonDe – profile matches

http://www.wired.com/politics/law/magazine/15-09/ff_internetlies?currentPage=all

http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/classics/tommy_montgomery/1.html

57 Laura March 22, 2010 at 2:06 am

It is obvious that two desperate and unstable middle-aged adults collided in cyberspace and thus the deception about 18 year old ” Jessi” was created and allowed to flourish.
Both were mentally unstable from the outset, to say the least.

I really do not see any of this as a condemnation of Pogo as Pogo exists today. I read this entire story on TruTV ( True Crime Library) and there were many more details.
Such as the fact that Mary S. was able to look at Thompson’s ” FRIENDS LIST” and that is how she found the Pogo screen name of the young co-worker who also had a cyber- relationship with ” Jessi” which resulted in his murder.
If Pogo’s Friend Lists had been private back then, the young man would probably still be alive, because Mary ( fake “Jessi”) would have left him alone, at least.

We all know that Pogo has changed the way the Friends Lists can be set up now. There is no reason to share any personal info on Pogo with strangers unless one really wants to, and wants to face the possible consequences of whatever crawls out of the woodwork if the ” info” posted is salacious and sexually enticing. There are pervs and very good people on most types of Internet sites.

Bottom line: Every adult in this triangle of lies bore SOME culpability because they all practiced Internet deception which got way out of hand. Even the murder victim did not know that he was talking to and feeling protective towards a 50 year old woman, ” Jessi’s” mother.

It was also stated on TruTV’s site that most of the Internet communications transpired through Yahoo IMs and other formats rather than Pogo. Pogo was simply the first jumping off point.

58 walla99362 March 22, 2010 at 4:00 am

I never go into uncensored chat rooms – asking for tourble.
Try to go into rooms with names like “clean chat,” Spiritual, “Aged to
Perfection,” etc.
If i am in a room and someone comes in with a “sexy” come on I politely let them know that is not acceptable in our room, and other members chat on with support. Generally the message gets across and the person leaves. If he/she doesn’t leave regulars keep on with their regular chat and will not acknowledge the “newbie” Within minutes the “newbie” leaves and rarely comes back…. And remember to report abuse – clicking on the persons name and sending it on to pogo.

59 sandy z March 22, 2010 at 9:46 am

why are people stupid when choosing screen names? tallhotblonde? beefcake? asking for trouble imo.

that things could get so crazy from a fake online relationship just blows me away ….

i think if you use your brain, act like a normal person and just play, chat and have fun, pogo is the best place on the net. if you are looking for something else, beware.

60 Frank March 22, 2010 at 10:03 am

What a coincidence that I was reading about this yesterday morning! I noticed this on the ABC 20/20 website and it gave a synopsis of the episode, right up before we find out that “Jessi” was actually another doppelganger impersonating her daughter!. What kind of world do we live in where these types of things happen? It reminded me of the whole Megan Meier story where the one neighbor, Lori Drew, was impersonating a young male to flirt and later humiliate the teen-aged Meier. Not quite a love triangle, but one that lead to vindictive behavior and ultimately paid the life of the young teenage girl.

Finding out about this Pogo situation will not change any way I interact with individuals online. I have long since been guarded with how I share information online with strangers and am not easily duped by a few lines of text or silly emoticons. I rarely chat during game play and, if I do, it’s only to make a wisecrack or complain about how dull a specific badge is (the latter makes game play faster). But romance? Not worth it. How anybody could fall in love with a mini is just inherently foolish.

61 Bob March 22, 2010 at 10:41 am

Well having experienced Pogo for over 10 years I have met 7 females in person…while 3 turned out to be married there was never any trouble…No one involved fudged their age too much…couple ladies were 2 years older but no porblem…Just have to use your brain if you decide to meet someone

62 Jakers March 22, 2010 at 11:06 am

I didnt see this story last night either.Like others I had never heard this story,but it saddens me.I have never met anyone from online.There are a few friends I have been playing with for a long time (not in Pogo) that someday I will meet,but other then them I have no interest to meet anyone from online.

My kids would post thier first & last names and the town they lived in,and I would always fight with them to take them off-and this story is why.For the most part the internet is not safe.Dont know what security measures can be taken but there obviously is not enough.

Thank you Lura for posting this.There are always people out there,that no matter what you tell them they never listen or believe.Hopefully this will be a wake-up call to them people and change thier lives and way of thinking.

~~Hugs~~

63 Evil Queen March 22, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Gecko #53 I want to say that for me I just don’t chat not becasue of things like this but because I usually go in to play the game and nothing more. I will say I have said things a few different times over the years in Pogo but not much. Its just usually when I see a conversation that is about certain things I jump in. I play other games online and do chat and have become friends with those people. But they are mmo games like City of Heros or Everquest 2. Obviously its one thing to be aware of things that may or may not be and another to just be overly cautious about things at times. I have been in the place of being stalked by an ex before. He had sat outside my parents house from what I found out at times and would email me all the time. I would block them and he would get a new name. I would report and nothing was ever done. I finally got rid of that email and got a new acct so he couldn’t find me that way. I had a friend that he ended up contacting at some point who would never tell him anything but tell me things that he told her. He for years would try to talk to her about me. He didn’t believe I was in love with the new man in my life and that had become my husband. Even when he found out we had our first child together, he still felt that way. I haven’t heard anything in many years thankfully though. My parents had moved and live in a different state so he couldn’t there anymore at whatever point. What is scary to me is there was a couple times I had stayed there before they moved with just my oldest son and my husband up where we lived cause of work. He could have been watching the house the whole time. I’m glad its something in the past and I don’t have to worry. So I do know how someone can feel with that. With playing online it can get hard to escape that when the site won’t do something to help. IPs can be blocked. Not everyone knows how to get around that. So if its something bad enough any site should take that action if needed and if they get around it find some way to deal with them so they can’t stalk someone.

64 Theresa March 22, 2010 at 2:11 pm

What I want to know is how much responsibility has to come from Pogo? I realize Pogo didn’t start the conversations nor did they know the identity of these people. I do feel it is Pogo’s responsibility to warn their players that people like this exist. We have all heard do not use your real city, phone numbers or let them have access to your account. My big beef is, although I am greatful for Badgehungry bringing this to my attention, why didn’t Pogo feel the need to post this? You can get booted for going against Terms of Service but these 2 people still have active accounts on Pogo?! One death is not enough or is the money more important than safety measures? Yes, I am aware that they can go in and make another name and so on but I would feel alot better if safety measures were tightened. Such as the ability to change our screennames without consent from Pogo. I do want to say “Shame on you to the mother who used her daughter’s identity” and “How stupid and ignorant can you be to the man who killed another over letters on a screen.” What the hell are these people thinking? Thank you BadgeHungry for the story and warnings that Pogo can’t seem to do themselves.

65 MomsBassetHound March 22, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Most of their conversations did NOT take place on Pogo. That just happens to be where they met.
The active ID’s that are now on Pogo were only created a couple of weeks ago, just for the filming of 20/20. These are not the ID’s they were using when they met.
I don’t see where Pogo is responsible at all, they could have met anywhere online.
Suz

66 Val March 22, 2010 at 5:08 pm

When I first joined Club Pogo in August of 2003 we were not allowed to use suggestive names like “tallhotblonde” there are many names that offend me that pogo has let in like “2hot4u” and many others in that spirit. I do not chat much at all becuase in the 50′s catagorie much of the chat is about peoples illnesses and people are explicite about their surgeries and a couple women talked about their bathroom daily habits. omg how disgusting. pogo encourages u to change your password often but wont let me change my player name. Which I think they should allow. after so many years with the same player name I have become known and would like to change my player name but pogo say’s no u cant. what a bummer

67 maxit March 22, 2010 at 5:48 pm

I saw the show and was shocked when in the beginning it says they met in Pogo….terrible what happened to the innocent young man…I know not to trust most of what I see and hear online including Pogo.

68 DebbieSLP March 22, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Val (#66) I also asked to change my screen name after an uncomfortable encounter (not stalking, but did not want it to become so). They said emphatically no, I could not change my SN, but I was welcome to start over with a new name and account, and lose all of my badges and tokens. :-(

I wonder at what point they allow someone to change SN, if ever? Or is the answer always that the complainant must start over? That does not seem right.

On a related note, the worst online thing that ever happened to me was when someone hacked my husband’s email. He was a truck driver, and we often used IM to chat in the evenings when he was on the road. This person impersonated my husband, sending me an innocuous IM, and then in the course of seemingly normal conversation said that he had decided to leave me and get a divorce! Lost of nasty things were said and I was beside myself! After I convinced myself this could not possibly be my darling hubby, I ended up worrying that someone had broken into the truck and stole his laptop, so I contacted state police in the area he was delivering to — and they could not find him or his truck. I have to say that impersonator won, I was extremely upset for a day or so until my husband called me.

You just never know. How and why that person decided to do what he/she did is completely beyond my comprehension. We never found out who it was, DH just had to cancel his AOL email account.

69 Ash March 22, 2010 at 7:30 pm

The episode is now online for those of you who missed on Friday. The episode is called “A Shot in the Dark”.

I don’t really chat either, unless someone tells me wtg, gg, etc. If someone wants to chat with my because of my name (cavsgurl2006) and talk about basketball, then that’s fine, but I never tell them what city I’m in.

70 Mamabear March 22, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Hello everyone, been reading all your interesting comments and have read most everything available online too and while it’s a shocking story I’m 100% sure that things like this happen everyday on any given online community. We all just need to use common sense. I’ve been a poster at the former CTV for over 10 yrs and some of what used to go on there at first shocked me and then I began to feel quite sad for the parties involved. Many have psychiatric problems~some people threatened suicide on a weekly basis sometimes~so it’s a problem no matter where ya go.

#23 adeliegerbers you don’t have to worry that the person that was spewing out someone else’s IP addy~I’d venture a guess that he had access to it b/c he had a message board or a league or something where he had access to that info.

#50 Sheljin, it’s easy to ban an IP unless the person has an aol addy and they can change from minute to minute. Many places don’t allow you to register with an aol addy b/c of this. There’s lots of throwaway addy’s that ppl use so they can’t be tracked as easily as ur ISP.

If you’re wondering how I know these things I’ve had a lot of message boards and currently have one with friends that I’ve made at CTV and it’s private and I have all the bells and whistles to keep us safe from the outside internet. It’s quite possible to write a script to keep the search engines from getting on my site. I’ve met everyone from my board in person and not one fudged on who or what they were~that’s 20 ppl that I love with all my heart. My board came to be b/c of all the drama on CTV and those of you that go there now know what I’m talking about I’m sure.

I’m a chatty person~as you can tell LOL and I’ve met a lot of great ppl in the few years I’ve been on Pogo. I’ve met some not so nice ppl to and they’re not in my cyberlife anymore.

This story is sad and tugs at all our heart strings b/c we’re currently members of Pogo. Just be alert and things should go smoothly for ya.

TYVM Lura for putting this up for discussion.

71 tcfox March 22, 2010 at 7:58 pm

This sad story could have happened anywhere on the internet where people congregate and share personal information. Just because it started on Pogo doesn’t make them any more responsible to save us from ourselves than any other place on the internet. I have no problem that Pogo was mentioned though. Pogo promotes itself and has the look and feel of a family friendly site, so we tend to be a little less cautious than we normally would be. It is important that we be reminded that twisted people are everywhere, on the internet and in RL.

The bottom line is that we alone need to take responsibility for our own (and our children’s) on-line privacy, safety and security by knowing what information we are willing to share with the world. Expecting Pogo (or any other site) to “close the barn door” so to speak is unfair to them.

That said, if we don’t watch our privacy settings everywhere on the internet, but specifically on social networking sites, every second we never know what we might be exposing about ourselves that we didn’t intend. Pogo’s “partnership” with Facebook does nothing to instill any added trust and because of it I do not expect to see any tightening of their security anytime soon. JMO

To Gecko #53 I don’t play on Pogo to chat and make friends anymore. BTDT, I’ll take them quiet bots any day. They may cheat at cards, but won’t stab you in the back ;)

To Laura #57 Contrary to what the TruTV article implies, without access to someone’s account (having the password), members have never had the capability to SEE anyone’s Friend’s List, at least that I recall. Anyone else remember having this ability?

To DebbieSLP #68 It’s my impression that people have been able to get their SNs changed. I’m sure how dire the circumstances are is the first criteria, but as always when contacting customer support, the answer will probably vary depending on who you talk to.

72 Ash March 22, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Okay never mind. It’s not the full episode, just the first part.

73 mytoesarecold March 22, 2010 at 9:10 pm

After reading some of the comments here, I must be really lucky (or totally sending anti-social vibes) because this is my 2nd year on Pogo and no one has ever approached me or even chatted for more than a wtg or gg. I always thought of Pogo as being pretty safe. Didn’t realize there were so many crazies out there. Scary!

74 Laura March 22, 2010 at 10:32 pm

TCFOX, RE: Post #71
I’ve been on Pogo for over 10 years. After thinking about this, I believe the way Mary got Brian’s Pogo screen name was through a forwarded email from Thompson through Pogo mail with all of the screen names CC’d. She must have then looked up the profiles of every person Thompson had contacted and found that Brian had SOMETHING in common with Thompson. Maybe one of the two was dumb enough to put their city or place of work, IDK.

You are right. I believe Friends Lists have been private for each user from the beginning of the lists. I’m sorry for my mistake. I think it’s important to clarify this point for anyone who might be worried about their friends list.
Pogo Mail still has inherent flaws with the listing of multiple screen names being possible and clearly visible to a number of people who only have the sender in common, though.

75 nephthys March 22, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Theres a reason you cannot just change your SN on a whim without pogo consent… and I agree with it. It would make it far too easy for people to go about harassing others. Block their one SN and they just change it… now they can go back to harassing! From what I have heard, some people have been able to change their SN after extreme circumstances, but its rare to be allowed to do so.

I dont feel pogo needs to account for anything that happened. Ive been on many, many sites. I have to admit, pogo goes far and beyond what most sites do in trying to educate/warn people about being safe on the internet. Really, a lot of the bad things that happen and be prevented with a little common sense. Sadly, we all know that its really not all that common.

76 sheljin March 23, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Moms #52 – Suz, thanks for the info. I haven’t been around the last two days and am just getting caught up with this thread. I appreciate you passing on the info. Also, thanks in advance to anyone else who answered me – I don’t want to overload the thread with individual thanks and I’m not positive I will get thru the whole thread right now. I echo others who have said it is just wonderful to have this site to share info & talk.

~Shel

77 sheljin March 23, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Ooops, I’m back anyway. lol Thank you Mamabear #70 – I appreciated the info on ISP’s too.

I just wanted to clarify some things from my own end: I do not “blame” Pogo for this incident at all – it doesn’t sound like it really had much to do with Pogo at all. However, many people – myself included – *have* had stalker issues that have taken place completely on Pogo, period. I do think Pogo has a responsibility to help people in those situations in whatever way they can – including allowing changing screen names. We report & report….it should be easy enough for Pogo to verify when it is a legitimate case to have a name change.

nephthys #75 – With all due respect, what you describe is not what would happen if we were allowed to change our SNs. It IS what happens now. Any stalker can create a new name, period. They can use freebie passes to give themselves the Club anytime. Allowing someone who is a victim to change their name is really the only way to try to get away from a persistent stalker (though, of course, the new name doesn’t guarantee a thing if the player continues to play in the same rooms, writes the same info on their profile, etc.).

I’m also not looking for Pogo to do a background check on anyone. However, many sites now make you register to post on their blogs. You have to have a valid email address, for instance. This wouldn’t stop everyone, I know that. Easy enough to get an email address, then abandon it. But if people realized Pogo was serious about keeping people they have banned from coming back onto the site, perhaps more would think twice about their behavior.

Pogo still has a provision against inappropriate names in their TOS. Banning inappropriate names is just one of the things that might happen if they actually LOOKED at an application before sending that person into Pogo to play. But, since they don’t, you still can report an inappropriate name if it bothers you too much. I had a friend whose name was banned after 5 years……someone came along with didn’t like it, or who had a beef with him and figured that was a way to get at him. Either way, the name was – poof! – gone.

~Shel

78 tcfox March 23, 2010 at 7:41 pm

To Laura #74 That is probably exactly how she got his name. The TruTV piece was written poorly in that regard. I had totally forgotten that you expose your entire friends list when you group forward mail. I never considered it since it is something I never do, but a good reminder for those that do. I agree that is something Pogo should look into.

A huge pet peeve of mine is people who either don’t know how or are too lazy to use the BCC in normal emails :-|

79 Jaggs March 23, 2010 at 8:27 pm

To tcfox #78 I agree that it is wrong to advertise your whole friends list when group forwarding mail, and I don’t do it either, but there is probably no BCC in POGO mail because it is against the TOS to forward bulk mail like that. When I send on normal emails, I always BCC to everyone I am sending to and delete any forwarded email addys from previous senders, it is the only SAFE thing to do, however, I don’t know if the recipients delete MY email addy from them before they forward.

As for my privacy settings on pogo…..anyone can read my profile, not much in it anyway, only friends can see where I am, or send me mail, everyone else is blocked, has been since I won a JP a couple of years ago and was stalked by half the population of POGO wanting to know if I worked for POGO, if I was real, did I get the money….it goes on and on.

What happened in this case was certainly tragic, for the people involved as well as their families, friends etc. How desperately lonely would a person have to be to perpetrate a hoax of this magnitude? It should certainly make people wonder WHO they are talking to online, which is probably the only GOOD thing to come out of the whole sordid mess. It is a very sad commentary on the state of our society.

80 Denise March 24, 2010 at 12:02 am

OMG!! I just spent like 3 hours reading this story on Wired. And I like you went into Friends on Pogo and entered those three names and yes its kinda weird to see those two still active. But I went either farther. I decide to copy/paste beefcake1572 screen name in myspace and sure enough there he was, Brian. What so eeerie is that his last log on date was Nov 13 2006, on Myspace and Montgomery was arrested on November 27th!! And I just stared at his photo on Myspace and felt sad for him, ya know. Its just kinda weird is all. Ive been on pogo since 2002 and have seen it all!! lol but have never heard about nothing like this.
Well all stay safe, beware and be smart…
Denise aka kitten

81 justaharleygirl March 25, 2010 at 12:43 am

I just got done watching *talhotblond* … while I found it a tad biased in making Thomas out to be this *normal* guy who was wronged (when in truth he is a severely disturbed psychopath thinking he was the victim, and it was innocent talking to a 18 year old), I found myself absolutely furious with Mary as she pretty much instigated the whole thing and kept the fuel to the fire. A real psychob**** in honesty. And on top of pretty much stalking her own daughter and sending the pics/videos to several other men on the Net … this woman needs to be in prison herself, but absolutely *nothing* was done to her. Not even a slap on the hand. She walked away totally unscathed and has NO remorse! She has not to this day apologized to her own daughter! And to think she is free. Her son said she’s back on the puter too! I feel so sorry for her daughter and ex-husband … This woman has a past of being devious and a liar. There has got to be some laws set up for people like this.

My heart just breaks for the family of Brian of course as it was senseless. As the judge stated clearly over a relationship that never existed. This has got to be one of the most bizarre cases I have heard about. The only victim was Brian. A young man who hadn’t hardly started his life.

As far as Pogo goes … sure they met on the site, but it wasn’t a *Pogo thing*. It could have happened anywhere and I doubt it will affect people playing there at all.

The documentary was very interesting with the psychologist and interviews of all the parties. It just made me extremely sad and angry at the same time.

82 antealien March 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm

I cannot stress enough to people I meet in pogo, or other online communities to be safe while online.
One thing in particular I remember clearly about my experience in pogo shortly after I “discovered” pogo. My sister was in poppit talking to and exchanging emails with another player. I dont remember his name. We had dial up internet, and would frequently get booted offline. My sister while chatting with this player was booted offline. While trying to reconnect, the phone rang. She answered it and was horrified to discover the man on the other end of the line was none other than the player she was chatting with and exchanging pics with in pogo. He said he simply called to warn her that there was enough of her personal information given out in her email alone that he was able to find her phone number and where she lived.
We both immediately changed our email information and profile information.
She was lucky. And considering it was just my sister and I living alone with our children, we were all lucky that day.
Since then I have changed what i give out over the internet. Nothing about my personal life can be found on any profile. My pics of my kids are locked and everything about me is ficticious.
This story does not surprise me at all. I’ve been around the internet enough to know that things are not what they may seem.
It is sad that this woman would exploit her own child this way and put her at risk in this way.
I also remember being a regular in the Padded Cell, in ali babba slots and learning that a regular player in our room was arrested for soliciting sex with who he believed to be a 13 year old girl. He was arrested after crossing state lines to pick up this girl with the intention of having sex with her. The “13 year old girl” being a cyber cop.
Pogo is fun, but if you arent careful about how you conduct yourself, it can be dangerous as well.

83 Babs March 28, 2010 at 7:38 pm

For Pogo users who have a stalker following them on the site. Just add the stalker’s name as a friend and then use the block feature. They will not be able to track you down in the game rooms.

84 sog April 14, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Thankyou again Dannie for the heads up, and I got it right on time, got to see the whole program. They did a good job imo, ant of course there was stuff there not in the very good link articles.
Just to clarify one thing, no one in Marys family knew what she was doing – not the husband not the son, not the daughter (the real Jessi).
One terrible part that is left out of the articles is that Jessi thought her father must have known what was going on, and so, of course held him responsible as well, initially. But she came to see the truth and she and her father are tight.
The husband divorced her, and Jessie disowned her, well, thats my words. The son, idk if they said where he stays, but he said
his mother Mary is on the internet all the time and he is worried.

Also, they said in the program that Mary (does e1 know Mary?) was contacting other men on the internet at that time; that she had HUNDREDS of pics of Jessie, many taken w/o Jessi’s knowledge; as well as a video that she (Mary) had taken of Jessie, again w/o Jessie’s knowing, where Jessie is playing or practicing outside in her cheerleader uniform, and they blurred a part of that.

They never mention where on the net these two met. Pogo, right? Tho clearly this is not where they generally chatted. The show makes a point of saying that Mary used Jessie’s MySpace page, but I’m unclear if that means Jessie had a MySpace page that she just didnt use, or if Mary had herself made a Jessie MS page. Either way Jessie was not there and was not aware.
Another part at end I got a bit confused on; it seems that even after the cops showed at the house to find that ‘talhotblond’ was really Mary, no one told Jessie (and her dad? – this is kinda where I’m confused). So they said she, Jessie, was hearing rumors about herself at school, so by the time Jessie found out, there were already headlines waiting for her to read about her moms involvement in a muder.

I will be the same on Pogo as always – well, I am a youngun (90 badges). One last thing; if I see a red flag, I stop, ya know?

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