Since announcing an investigation into the bullying of the 15-year-old girl who took her own life last week, and creating a dedicated email account, the RCMP have received thousands of tips. But they are plagued by online rumours and scams.
Amanda killed herself in her Port Coquitlam, B.C. home a week ago today. Her death came five weeks after she uploaded a video on YouTube explaining how she had been bullied for the past two years.
When Amanda was 12, she flashed her breasts on a webcam. A year later she was told if she did not engage in other sexual acts before the camera, the picture would be posted online. She refused and the photo was circulated.
After her peers saw the picture, she was constantly cyberbullied. She changed schools, hoping the bullying would stop. But she was physically assaulted by some teens outside her new school and then attempted to kill herself by drinking bleach.
As Digital Journal reported, the hacker group, Anonymous, claims they have discovered the man who was tormenting Amanda. The group gave out his name and other personal information and said the 32-year-old man is, or was, an employee of Facebook. According to Anonymous, the man appeared in court on Monday on unrelated sexual assault and sexual interference charges.
In a media release issued yesterday by the Lower Mainland District RCMP, spokesman Sgt. Peter Thiessen said, "One of our biggest challenges right now, is false information that is being spread by people who appear to be trying to use Amanda's story to do harm or make a profit."
Thiessen described the allegation of the man named online as Amanda's tormentor as "unfounded."
The Ottawa Citizen reports the mother of the man named online as the person who bullied and blackmailed Amanda said naming her son has subjected her family to a "lynch mob" mentality. She said, "It's really dangerous to throw out names when you don't know. This is doing more harm that good."
Facebook pages have been set up threatening the life of her son.
The Times Colonist reports the telephone number posted by Anonymous was incorrect. And one of the two email addresses released by the group was for an account that was just registered last week. The owner of the email account has been deluged with emails.
Thiessen also said police had to take time away from the investigation to squelch the online rumour that Amanda's autopsy photographs were leaked and posted online. He said this rumour caused a lot of distress to the Todd family.
The RCMP also reports fake websites have been set up to raise money for Amanda's family. Thiessen said, "Taking advantage of a family's grief is despicable."
There is only one legitimate account set up for people who want to contribute funds to Amanda's family. It is called the "Amanda Todd Trust Account" and donations can be made at any Royal Bank of Canada branch.
The RCMP urges members of the public who want to assist in the investigation to think critically about information received online before contacting them.