Nafeesa Onque’s Facebook page had all the trimmings
of a teenage girl’s Internet home: Her cell phone
number, favorite movies, relationship status and photo
albums were just a click away, lined up neatly beneath a
smiling photograph of the pretty 15-year-old.
But the person who built the profile was nothing like the
Newark teen who was a popular cheerleader for years and
spends most of her time working toward a Rutgers University
scholarship. Someone else was behind the computer screen,
someone who stole Nafeesa’s online identity and was
using it to destroy her real one.
For nearly three years, an online bully plagued Nafeesa,
following her across the social networking spectrum,
hounding the girl and her friends on MySpace, Facebook and a
video chat service called ooVoo, according to police and her
family. In 2009, the bully started impersonating Nafeesa,
according to police and relatives, using several fake
profiles to hold her online personality hostage until police
tracked down the impostor last month.
Nafeesa’s mother, Karima, worked relentlessly to end
the harassment, pleading with Internet providers, school
officials and Newark police.
There were momentary victories, but every time the mother
managed to get a page deleted, a new one would spring up
The tormentor used varying online identities. A fake
Nafeesa, calling herself “Nafeesa McPomPoms Onque
Onque,” sent “friend” requests to dozens of
city teens as well as family members on Facebook.
Shortly after accepting an invitation from
“Nafeesa,” friends found their inboxes and
Facebook “walls” flooded with threats, sexually
explicit comments and profanity-laced tirades, police and
One girl became so angry she attacked Nafeesa, striking her
in the face outside a city school last March. After years of
attacks, the impostor was caught, but Nafeesa’s ordeal
and the family’s frustrated attempts to help her speak
to the larger challenges facing law enforcement as
cyber-bullying becomes a more visible national problem,
“No one knows where or how to report cyber-bullying.
They just don’t. I am that person. I do this all the
time, and apparently I am failing and all of us are
failing,” said Parry Aftab, executive director of
WiredSafety, the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit
Internet safety group. “When it happens, everyone
thinks they are the first person it ever happened to.”
Aftab said Nafeesa’s experience may have been
harrowing, but it’s also fairly common.