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Ottawa man faces 181 charges of Internet harassment, fraud

Robert Kohlhuber / iStockphoto

An Ottawa man is facing 181 charges in relation to "a spider web" of cyberbullying and harassment attacks of 38 people across Canada, the United States and United Kingdom.

Robert Campbell, 42, was arrested Thursday at his west Ottawa residence after an eight-month investigation. The probe, known as Project Winter, resulted in scores of charges against him, including 27 counts of criminal harassment, 85 counts of defamation and 69 counts of identity fraud.

Police allege the suspect used intricate anonymity software to mask his identity and throw police off his trail. Policy say the suspect had been attacking his victims online for 12 years, targeting individuals based on a longtime grudge.

"It's clearly not stranger-on-stranger, there's that link that's personal," said Acting Inspector Carl Cartright. "He was targeting people for a reason."

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Police also allege the man created fake e-mail addresses and online accounts to assume individuals' identities on the Internet, then defame and harass people in their personal and professional circles.

Police say the probe was made difficult because of identity-masking software and it required a number of judicial authorizations.

Also involved in the months-long investigation were the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police, and police in Vancouver, Halifax, Central Saanich, B.C., Rothesay, N.B., and Ferndale, Mich., as well as London Metropolitan Police and the Hertfordshire Constabulary in the U.K.

The accused was unemployed at the time of his arrest, according to Insp. Cartright, who added "this was a full-time job by an individual to do this."

Mr. Campbell had his first court appearance Friday morning, and is set to be back in court on Aug. 7.

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