Fake names can get you 20 years


Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri,

I’m in college and have a roommate. She’s also a great friend — or was, until now.

Her computer was open and I glanced at it and wow! She used my middle and last name to register for something online.

I was going to say something but I was stunned and didn’t know what to say.

Later, I asked, “Have you ever used someone else’s name before to register for stuff … like your mom’s name or something?” She said no.

I got mad and said that I saw she used my name.

She asked why I was reading her private stuff! (As if that mattered.) I told her that her computer happened to be open.

She got angry and said it isn’t my real name, it’s a fake name. I said it wasn’t right. She said she doesn’t want to give her name out on the internet.

I told her to make up a fake name! I left. I wonder if I was too harsh on her?

Signed,
Not fake

Dear Not,

We can see why you’re upset. However, we think you can patch this up.

First, we have information about this. It’s actually a big deal.

You can be charged with a federal crime under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act enacted in 1986.

It’s against the law to register under a false name online. The letter of the law means she could receive five to 20 years in prison.

Cyberbullying laws are in place now, so this has become even more important. Most people arrested who were using fake names on the internet didn’t used to receive felony charges.

With the recent increases in suicide rates-double the numbers for 15- to 19- year-old girls and a 30 percent increase for boys in that same range-it may become increasingly important that no one uses fake names for seemingly harmless reasons, like registering for online stores.

Obviously, fake names allow horrific cyberbullying, which is the most common form of bullying.

We are sure that your roommate doesn’t know this habit of hers is a serious crime now.

Show her this column and tell her you want to stay friends, however, she must immediately stop using your name or fake names for her own good and for the goodness of your relationship.

Friends are hard to come by. Loyalty and truth are great qualities for both friends to share.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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