Ex-Con Wrongly Labeled As Sex Offender In Text Messages

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - How many times have you received a forwarded text message on your cell phone but did not know how to track the original sender?

A Las Cruces man said that is what is happening to him, except he is the focus of the message, being labeled a sex offender, which he is not.

"It's juvenile that people would do something like this," Roy Parra said.

Parra is an ex-con trying to lead a normal life, but he said a forwarded text message is jeopardizing his already bruised reputation.

"I did something totally different. There's no way I'm a sex offender," Parra said.

Parra served 12 1/2 years for armed robbery with a deadly weapon. His mug shot from the day he was booked into prison is real in a forwarded message, but superimposed text labeling him as a registered sex offender, is not.

"I'm uncomfortable being out in public now," Parra said.

ABC-7 searched the National Sex Offender Registry, finding no results for Parra's name.

Parra said he received the message from a friend, who said it was forwarded from another friend, the original source remains unknown.

"If the message is perceived to be a threat or harassing, this person who's receiving them can actually file a police report," Dan Trujillo, spokesman for the Las Cruces Police Department, said.

Wireless technology expert Philip Yost said tracking down the source may be challenging, but it can be done.

"You have to contact the provider, and you'd have to file like a harassment claim. It usually takes 20 to 48 hours, and through the data stamping or imprinting on the message, even if it's blocked, they're able to pull the information and see the mobile number that's associated with it," Yost said.

Parra said his problem should be a reminder of the possible damage from pressing "send."

"Just because you get a forward about something doesn't mean it's necessarily true," he said.

If a forwarded text hurts a reputation, Trujillo said, that could potentially be defamation of character, a matter that could be taken up in civil court.

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