Albuquerque Public Schools are investigating a cyberstalking case that involves two of its teachers.
The women say they’re getting harassing text messages from someone, but they’re not sure who it is. The school district thinks it may be one of its own employees.
“Basically someone came to my unit,“ said one Albuquerque Police Detective, questioning employees at Eugene Field Elementary School. “I work for domestic violence, stalking and said they were being harassed. They don’t know who’s harassing them, but they are being harassed and the only common denominator is the fact they all used to work here.“
An Albuquerque Police Department detective was sent to investigate after two teachers reported getting hundreds of harassing text messages from mysterious phone numbers. The phone numbers were created using an app called “Text Me.“
IT expert Sean Smock from the University of New Mexico says these apps allow users to stay anonymous by using a company’s server to hide their information. “It connects to their main server, and then uses their server to send messages out to the rest of the world,“ said Smock.
According to court documents, the messages started pouring in last July. Most of them are sexual in nature and some messages reference events that happened at work. In the documents, APS believes the sender could be another employee.
“There are some legitimate uses, but like any technology, in the wrong hands it can absolutely be used for bad purposes,“ said Smock.
Investigators issued a subpoena last month. It will force “Text Me“ to hand over information that could reveal who’s cyberstalking these women.
Smock says that could work, but law enforcement may also run into some roadblocks.
“You’re completely at the mercy of the company who runs the service. They may or may not comply with those requests,“ said Smock. “Even large companies like Apple encrypt their data in such a way that they can’t even read it. So if you’re trying to go back and pull some information, in some cases it may be impossible.“
APS is also suing this unknown person. If he or she is an employee, APS says they’re in breach of their employment contract for violating the district’s harassment policy.