Michigan man victimized in online scheme convicted of stalking San Diego woman

SAN DIEGO - A Michigan man who was caught in an Internet scheme and traveled to San Diego to seek murderous revenge on the couple he thought perpetrated it will be sentenced Nov. 22, authorities said Thursday.

Brian Curtis Hile, 29, was convicted Tuesday by a federal jury of interstate stalking.

According to evidence presented at trial, Hile became enraged when he discovered he was duped into a "catfishing scheme" in which he believed he had been in an online relationship of about two years with a woman.

"This all started because someone hacked into what she thought was a secure photograph archive on the Internet," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Miller. "They then developed a romantic relationship where she then sent him photographs and he later learned through other people in the game and other friends that the woman was actually a man in South Africa."

Prosecutors said that when Hile found out that his online paramour was in fact a man in South Africa and that his romance was a scam after he exchanged romantic conversations and explicit photographs over a couple of years, he began an extensive search of the Internet to find the woman in the photographs.

He utilized chat rooms and online gaming blogs to identify and locate the woman, a San Diego County resident, who years earlier had her online Photobucket account compromised, resulting in her photographs being disseminated over the Internet, trial evidence showed.

In August 2011, Hile came to San Diego, intent on killing the woman in the photographs and her boyfriend and he was arrested miles from the would-be victims' home, prosecutors said.

Evidence presented at trial showed that after a diligent search, Hile not only identified the woman in the photographs, but obtained personal information for her as well as her boyfriend, family members and friends.

"He wanted retribution. He could not get to the individual in South Africa who had deceived him and he wanted to harm someone and the next best person would be this woman and her boyfriend," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Stingley.

At the time of his arrest, Hile was in possession of the woman's address, telephone number, email addresses, her favorite restaurants and the names and addresses of educational institutions she attended.

Hile also had duct tape, zip ties, and a to-do list that included additional supplies he needed to complete his plan to kill the woman and her boyfriend, including a trench coat, knife and chloroform.

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