Twitter may have helped capture fugitive in Mexico

Posted Jul 10, 2013 by Kirstin Stokes Smith
A six-month game of cat and mouse between a former Amtrak clerk convicted of fraud and the American justice system ended in an arraignment this Monday, July 8, and Twitter may have played a part.
Fugitive Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski, who was convicted of insurance tax fraud and 29 felonies, and sentenced to 20 years in prison this January, was arrested July 4 in Rosarito, Mexico by the Fugitive Task Force. She was arraigned July 8 in San Diego Superior Court on a charge of failing to appear while on bail.
LA Times reported that she was sentenced in absentia after she was found guilty of receiving in excess of $650,000 in fraudulent disability and insurance payments. San Diego DA Bonnie Dumanis had this to say about Podgurski,
“The defendant in this case was brazen in both the large-scale fraud she committed and the way she mocked the criminal justice system.”
According to the LA Times, in order to locate Podgurski, her case, including her Twitter feed, was provided to the US Marshal and the Computer and Technology Crime High-Tech Response Team (CATCH).
Podgurski began tweeting from her now closed Twitter account while she was on the run. When she did not appear in court on the last day of her trial in January, Twitter became the sole means of communication with Podgurski.
Ars Technica reports that it was her June 5 Tweet, “Catch me if you can,” thought to be directed at Dumanis, that may have been used to identify her location. Ars also says that while DA spokesperson Steve Walker denied Twitter’s involvement in the capture of Podgurski, the office’s press release revealed that social media was part of its investigation. Further, Ars suggests,
“it seems likely that if Podgurski didn’t take any measures to conceal her identity or location online, it would have been relatively trivial to access her IP address and find her real-world location.”
Opposing Views reports that there will be a readiness hearing on July 17 at which Podgurski is expected to be handed two more years plus eight months for her failure to appear in court in January. She is expected to plead not guilty at that time.