Popular Website Is a Hit with Criminals

By: Gerri L. Elder

Popular Internet websites are becoming increasingly good tools for law enforcement professionals. Not long ago, we discussed how videos posted online have led to arrests of criminals who have been so bold as to post video clips of themselves taunting police or actually committing a criminal act on YouTube or MySpace.

However, another website is also providing assistance to police officers and detectives, and new clients for criminal lawyers. Craigslist.org is a classified ad style site that allows users to connect with other users by posting want-ads and announcements.

When Craig Newmark originally set up his website, he probably never envisioned the tremendous popularity that would eventually draw prostitutes, predators, would-be murderers and law enforcement. After all, your local newspaper classified section doesn’t feature a section for criminals.

To be fair, Craigslist doesn’t have a specific criminal section either. However, that doesn’t stop criminals from flocking to the site to post their ads.

There have been many prostitution sting operations set up by police after seeing local “escort” ads for ladies of the evening in their communities. In most areas of the country, prostitution is still illegal, even if wrapped up in nice words such as “erotic services” and “full service sensual massage.”

Craigslist has reportedly also been a vehicle for robbers to find potential victims. Criminals can easily post as buyers or sellers on Craigslist and wait for their victims to contact them. Since the website takes no legal responsibility for transactions that users set up by using the site’s services, people assume the risks when meeting strangers that they contact online.

Most recently, a Craigslist user has made the news by posting an extremely bold ad. It would be hard to imagine police not swooping in on this one, and they did indeed make an arrest after investigating this woman’s classified ad.

Anne Marie Linscott, 49, thought she had met the man of her dreams online. There was just one problem that wouldn’t go away – his wife. Linscott came up with a cunning plan though, and decided to have the woman killed. She posted an ad on Craigslist and listed it under “freelance,” according to an Associated Press story.

Linscott didn’t exactly disclose what she wanted in her ad, but when people contacted her via e-mail to ask about the job offer, she disclosed that she was seeking “silent assassins”. She was offering $5,000 to the person who would kill her lover’s wife and she was able to provide specific details about the woman she wanted to have murdered.

Police say that when people responded to her ad, she e-mailed them back and said that she was looking for someone to “eradicate a female living in Oroville, California.” She provided a physical description of the woman, her age and the address of her employment. On two separate occasions, she offered to pay $5,000 when the eradication services were completed.

Linscott is currently jailed in Michigan, and is facing extradition to California to face trial for her murder-for-hire plot.