Can the police pose as somebody else on their AOL Instant Messenger

A buddy of mine, who is by all definitions a drunken idiot, told me that he thinks the government has looked at people on his aim list and then using that to have phony conversations with people to see what he is upto. For instance I got an im the other day that was from the guy he was having trouble with. The odd part I later saw him and he said he didn’t im andhe didn’t even know my screen name. That’s when I talked to my buddy and he said the cops were doing stuff like that from names they got off his buddy list. Is this even possible?

Huh? :confused:

“Do the police have access to everybody’s ID & Password so they can log onto IM and talk to you without your realizing you’re talking to a cop?”

I’m guessing no.

sorry about that, I’ll revise it in a little bit.

Why would they bother?

The only reason I could think of is child porn, or drugs, or something just as bad. They could, and do, set up sting operations, I don’t think AOL publicizes this kind of activity very much though. I have heard of sting operations happening with internet Newsgroups though.

Be easier to just make up their own, aohell would prolly give it for free for sting ops

IANAL etc. but I would think that the law enforcement agency would need to get either a warrant or a subpeona for the screen name and password. There is nothing that prevents the police from lying to suspects or pretending to be someone other than they are, including pretending to be an actual person. I don’t know what sort of logs AOL might keep of AIM chats but the police would need a warrant or subpeona for those logs too.

Unless of course there’s something in the PATRIOT Act that says they don’t…

I think this is what you’re thinking of.

People, or should I say jerks, on Yahoo LOVE to create spoof screen names. If your sn is joeblow9010, and someone wants to screw around with your identity, they create a sn like joebblow9010. It’s almost a hallmark of the Yahoo system to have your sn spoofed.

      • Typical local police have no way of hacking into your computer to find your usernames and passwords at all. Usually what they do to lure internet statutory-rape prosecution candidates is someone just signs on to a chat channel and post their a/s/l as “teenage” (13, 14 or whatever)/female/wherever they are, in the hopes of somebody asking to meet them. It usually works sooner or later.
  • In practice this usually isn’t continued by most departments for very long because they do it in hopes of finding area perverts, but they quickly see that it draws in people from all over the country, when there’s regular criminals right outside on the city streets that need catching. A local police department caught the assistant to the mayor of San Antonio a few years back.