A Chinese national who has been living and studying in Los Angeles has been accused of stalking and harassing a Minnesota college student. Ki Cheung Yau has been arrested and charged with cyberstalking. Yau created several accounts in the victim’s name, “including social media platforms, dating websites, and pornography websites, using the name, photos, and personally identifying information of the victim.”
The practice, known as “catfishing,” earned the 27-year-old a federal charge of cyberstalking.
In some situations, like with Yau, catfishers take the identity of another real individual and expose personal details about their life. In other situations, they create entirely fictional personas. It is unclear if the victim and Yau knew each other prior to the incident, or how Yau obtained the Minnesotan’s personal information such as an address and phone number.
It has been reported that “Yau used these accounts to communicate with others and advertise for violent sexual encounters.”
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the incidents began on January 4, 2020 and have continued into the present. The justice department statement notes that on two separate occasions in January of 2021, a man came to the residence of the victim asking for them by name “presumably because he believed he was meeting the victim for a sexual encounter.”
The press release states, “In February 2021, the victim discovered that multiple social media profiles had been created using her name and her likeness, including accounts on Instagram, Facebook, and other dating, and sexually-focused websites.”
The victim has now allegedly had to move addresses and change their phone number following the incidents. She had been receiving electronic communication from men that she does not know, allegedly on Snapchat.
Yau has appeared before a judge, Magistrate Judge Gail J. Standish, in California and where he is being detained and awaiting his removal to Minnesota to stand trial for the charges.
The case was a cooperative investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the St. Paul Police Department. The case will be prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Hillary A. Taylor.
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