OXNARD, Calif. - The Ventura County Sheriff's Office arrested an Oxnard man who created fake social media accounts to impersonate a Ventura woman and defame a local business.
The dispute started in June involving an incident at the Sandbox Coffeehouse in Ventura. An interaction between an employee of the coffee shop and a customer involving the use of face coverings went viral on social media.
The incident at the coffee shop was a large topic of conversation and was shared on various social media platforms.
A Ventura woman voiced her opinion on the incident in the form of several comments made on social media. NewsChannel has opted not to name the woman involved in this incident.
The Ventura woman has no affiliation with the Sandbox Coffeehouse, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office said.
An Oxnard man, seeing comments made by the Ventura woman, created fake social media profiles impersonating her. He then went on to use these accounts to make racist comments using the woman's stolen identity. The sheriff's office said the woman then deleted her real social media accounts, fearing that her actual accounts had been hacked.
These racist comments were shared hundreds of times on social media and led to the woman's real life being targeted by people upset by the comments made by the fake account. This included a nonprofit organization with which the woman was affiliated. The Sandbox Coffeehouse was also targeted in this hoax, although the actual woman and the coffee shop had no connection to each other.
The Ventura County Sheriff's Office began an investigation into these comments made on social media and conducted interviews and issued search warrants as part of the investigation.
Ultimately, deputies ended up arresting a 42-year-old Oxnard man for impersonating the woman and making the racist comments.
He was arrested on complaints of identity theft and was booked into the Ventura County Pre-trial Detention Facility. He is awaiting the filing of criminal charges by the Ventura County District Attorney's Office.
The sheriff's office said it would like the public to know that it is a crime to knowingly impersonate another person through the internet without their consent for the purpose of harming, intimidating or defrauding another person.