Southern Indiana U.S. Attorney’s Office files cyber threats and stalking charges against North Carolina woman
Indianapolis – United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler today announced criminal charges in a cyber-stalking case in which Shamonique Ferguson, a 21 year old from North Carolina, engaged in a pattern of internet threats that involved three Indiana University campuses, Ivy Tech, a business in Fishers, and a family living in Indiana. The three count complaint charges Shamonique Ferguson with extortionate communication, mail threats, and interstate stalking between December of 2016 and April of 2017.
According to the criminal complaint, Ferguson harassed her victim prior to December of 2016; however, beginning in 2017, the behavior escalated. Ferguson delivered threats to Indiana University, alleging that the victim was planning mass acts of physical violence on several of its campuses. Ferguson posted threats to send a pipe bomb to the victim’s residence and to commit violent acts at the victim’s then place of employment, a family entertainment center in Fishers, IN. Ferguson also mailed various items to the victim and her family, including an item that contained bodily waste and threats to kill the victim. Over a period of less than 4 months, Fishers police, fire, and ambulance services responded to the victim’s residence on more than 20 false reports made by Ferguson. Because many of the calls were recorded, a Fishers Police Department detective was able to recognize Ferguson’s voice as the false reporter. Facebook records for Ferguson showed that she enlisted others to make false reports against the victim as well.
“We live in times where the Internet, cell phones, and social media allow for unlimited communication with friends, family, and even complete strangers. Sadly, we also live in times where people abuse that privilege, turning a text message, a webpage, or a keyboard into an instrument of fear by instantaneously transmitting anonymous threats,” said United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler. “Faced with the risk of large scale violence, universities, businesses, and individuals cannot simply disregard threats. When an individual elects to threaten anyone in the Southern District of Indiana, in the manner laid out in our complaint, he or she should not expect to forever hide behind the anonymity of the web. What he or she should expect is a visit from federal, state, and local law enforcement, working together to ensure the safety of our citizens.”
This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service, Fishers Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Indiana State Police.
“Using the U.S. mail to communicate threats of violence, attempt extortion, or to commit stalking are criminal acts. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigates threats made against the American public. Working with our local law enforcement partners, a suspect has been apprehended and will now answer for those charges in Federal court,” said Patricia Armstrong, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service - Detroit Division.
“The landscape of this investigation quickly went beyond the borders of Fishers, Indiana. The use of the internet, social media and other electronics raised the level of harassment beyond a typical investigation. Law enforcement partnerships and resources also extend beyond borders. We take the safety of our community very seriously and working with State and Federal law enforcement on this case was absolutely necessary to end this cycle of harassment and threats. We are committed to seeing this case through the criminal justice system to affirm that this type of criminal activity does not continue,” said Fishers Indiana Chief of Police Mitch Thompson.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristina M. Korobov who is prosecuting the case for the government, if convicted, Ferguson faces up to 5 years of imprisonment for each count charged.
A criminal complaint is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. All defendants are innocent until proved guilty in federal court.