DEA to Pay Woman $134,000 for Impersonating Her on Facebook

Personal Injury

An upstate New York woman who sued the U.S. government and a Drug Enforcement Administration agent for impersonating her on Facebook FB +0.27% without permission has settled her case for $134,000.

Sondra Arquiett filed suit in 2013 after she discovered that a DEA agent had concocted a Facebook profile in her name using images stored on her cellphone. Authorities had earlier taken possession of her phone after arresting her in 2010 for her role in a cocaine drug ring. A DEA agent then created the “undercover” Facebook profile to try to lure criminal associates of hers in connection with the probe.

The profile page, which used her former last name, included a photo of her posing with her young son and niece and another image of her reclining on the hood of a BMW. At one point, it also featured a photo of her “wearing either a two-piece bathing suit or a bra and underwear,” according to court documents. In the guise of Arquiett, the agent sent a “friend” request to at least one wanted fugitive, according to court papers.

In her suit, she accused the government of trampling on her privacy and putting her life in a danger in its pursuit of drug traffickers.

The government agreed to pay the sum after earlier arguing in federal court that the ploy didn’t violate her rights. In court papers, the government said the Facebook page served a “legitimate law enforcement purpose.” While acknowledging that she never gave the agent “express permission” to create the phony profile and to use photos swiped from her seized phone, the government said she had “implicitly” consented to the ruse.

The settlement was disclosed in a court document Tuesday.

Read the full story on the Wall Street Journal.

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