Sen. Andrew Lanza is being plagued by online impostor

Andrew J Lanza

July 26, 2010

From the Staten Island Advance:

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- If you've been thinking of friending state Sen. Andrew Lanza on Facebook, make sure you're contacting the guy who works in Albany -- not the impostor who has created a phony site to look like Lanza's political and personal pages, right down to seemingly legit photos.

"We sent him a message asking, 'Who are you and why are you doing this?'" said Lanza (R-South Shore). "We haven't heard back."

The irony isn't lost on Lanza, who two years ago helped craft the first-in-the-nation law making Internet impersonation a crime. Since then, 11 states have followed suit.

Lanza said he and his staff became aware of the fake site about two weeks ago. Since then, he said, constituents have been contacting the bogus Lanza Facebook site thinking they are communicating with him.

"We've reached out to the D.A.'s office," said Lanza.

The 2008 Lanza legislation makes Internet impersonation a class-A misdemeanor crime under New York state's penal law. Citing its importance at the time, Lanza said it was "in response to the growing availability of personal data online and the increased use in social networking sites."

"Computer criminals are increasingly finding ways to defraud and victimize people, their intentions ranging from harassment and defamation to identity theft and sexual predation," he said.

The real Lanza Facebook sites include photos of him standing in front of an American flag and seated in a convertible with veterans flanked by flags.

The fake site uses Lanza's name, bio and photo and a bogus e-mail address:

"This demonstrates how easy it is for someone to act as though they are you," said Lanza, "which would allow them potential access to your personal information, as well as the personal information of your friends and family who were duped into believing they are communicating with you."

"It reinforces the need for people to be aware of the problem," Lanza added, "and very aware as it pertains to children, who are on the sites more than their parents."