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Issue 126 - March 2012 (1st Edition) - Page 14

'Thomas Romany's Stuff' Warning Message

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Outline
Rapidly circulating social media message warns users not to interact with a person called 'Thomas Romany's Stuff' because he is trying to stalk women that have made contact with him to buy ugg boots.



Brief Analysis
The warning remains unsubstantiated. The initial warning, which may have been UK based, quickly spawned new variants aimed at Australian and US audiences. I am yet to find any credible police or news reports about such incidents. A Facebook profile named 'Thomas Romany Stuff' is currently unavailable or has been removed. Reposting allegations that name people as the perpetrators of crimes without any evidence or confirmation is counterproductive as well as unethical.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.





Last updated: 16th February 2012
First published: 16th February 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
RE-POSTING FROM ANOTHER SITE........WARNING TO ALL MEMBERS PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ!!! A Lady got lured into a scam involving ugg boots from a bloke called Thomas Romany's Stuff. I have been asked by the police to make all groups that I am a member of to put out a warning to ALL women. He gets your address saying he will send you the Uggs, then sends you inbox's describing what you are wearing and details of your surroundings ect, that he couldn't possibly know about without him having visited your area. I had to call the police as he was threatening to break into my house. They have said that FEMALES need to be made aware and warnings put in place. THE POLICE HAVE HAD 2 REPORTS OF THIS TODAY ALONE. Please DO NOT GIVE YOUR ADDRESS OUT. He is believed to be quiet dangerous and the police are taking this matter very seriously. Could you also make sure this message is copy n pasted to other groups that are advertising items for sale. PROTECT YOUR PERSONAL SAFETY WHEN DOING BUYS/SELLS! ALWAYS try to have a person at home or in car with you! If possible meet at LOCAL MC DONALD'S store or service Station n do buys/sells to ENSURE YOUR SAFETY



Detailed Analysis
According to this message, which is currently rocketing around Facebook and other social media sites, female users should avoid dealing with a man named "Thomas Romany's Stuff" who is selling UGG boots via the Internet. The message claims that the man sent frightening emails to a woman who ordered boots from him and threatened to break into her house, which prompted her to report the matter to police. Supposedly, the woman was actually asked by police to send out the warning to her online groups. The message also claims that police have received other reports about such incidents.

So far, the claims in the message remain unsubstantiated. I am yet to find any credible police or news reports about the incident described. A significant problem with this warning (and many others of its ilk) is that it contains no information whatsoever about where or when the alleged incident occurred. The first versions of the warning may have been based in the UK. A previously available Facebook profile by the name of "Thomas Romany Stuff" appears to have been removed or is at least not currently available. An examination of Google's cache of the profile suggests that it was indeed UK based and that its owner may have been in the Bedfordshire region.

However, since it first surfaced, the message has spawned versions aimed at Australian and American audiences. The American version changes "bloke" to "guy" and refers to just "boots" rather than "ugg boots".

Even if the original version held a grain of truth for a specific region, the circulation of the message in countries thousands of kilometers away is pointless. Moreover, the message contains unsubstantiated allegations against an individual named Thomas Romany but makes no effort to identify where the person lives or what evidence there is to back up the allegations. And, given that there are a number of people around the world that share the name Thomas Romany, the message could unfairly damage the reputation of innocent individuals.

Moreover, it seems very far-fetched to suggest that the police would actually ask a member of the public to broadcast warnings about a suspect that they were currently investigating.

Of course, the advice in the message to be careful when giving out personal information and buying and selling online is worth heeding. Nevertheless, sending on completely unsubstantiated allegations about people is basically just pointless rumour mongering. To have any use at all, warnings must contain concrete and verifiable information that includes details of where and when an alleged incident occurred. And publicly naming people that might be the subject of investigation may actually hinder police efforts. Furthermore, publicly naming an individual as having committed a crime of which he is yet to be charged is unfair and immoral.

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Issue 126 Start Menu

Pages in this issue:
  1. Strawberry Quick Methamphetamine Warning
  2. Hoax Warning: Lost Child Lure - 'New Way for Gang Members to Rape Women'
  3. Hoax - Right To Be Connected to an Australian Phone Rep
  4. Hoax - Eating Shrimp and Taking Vitamin C Can Cause Death by Arsenic Poisoning
  5. Ashley Flores Missing Child Hoax
  6. Hoax - Facebook Will Pay One Dollar Per Like to Help Baby With a Face Cancer
  7. AICPA 'Tax Fraud Accusations' Malware Emails
  8. RIAA Notification of Copyright Violation Malware Email
  9. Giant Snake in Electric Fence Photographs
  10. Cruise Control Hydroplane Warning
  11. Facebook Gold Status Membership Advance Fee Scam
  12. Ectopia Cordis Sick Baby Facebook Hoax
  13. Hotmail Account Closure Phishing Scam
  14. 'Thomas Romany's Stuff' Warning Message
  15. Mark Zuckerberg and Apple Partnership Survey Scam