Robert Campbell, a 42-year-old Ottawa man, faces nearly 200 charges of identity fraud, defamation and criminal harassment involving 38 people across Canada, the U.S. and U.K.
"This individual had a grudge against other individuals and sought the means online to do this, and he was doing this, really, for almost 12 years," said Ottawa police Acting Insp. Carl Cartright.
"He had technical skills that we had not encountered in the Ottawa police before."
The charges were announced Friday morning after an eight-month investigation involving law enforcement agencies in B.C., Ontario, New Brunswick and Halifax, as well as Michigan in the U.S., and Hertfordshire and London in the U.K.
Campbell is facing:
- 27 counts of criminal harassment.
- 85 counts of defamation libel.
- 69 counts of identity fraud.
Campbell appeared briefly in an Ottawa courtroom via video link on Friday. His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 7.
Alleged victim says his family was targeted
At the courthouse on Friday morning, before Campbell's appearance, a man who identified himself as a victim of the alleged attacks told CBC News they happened for more than 10 years.
A court-ordered publication ban prevents release of the names of alleged victims.
The man said fake, defamatory social media profiles were set up for him, and his daughter and mother, and he said his children worried about the profiles hindering their applications to schools.
His family members were notified Thursday about the arrest, and he said they're happy charges have been laid.
Also at the courthouse Friday morning, a woman who identified herself as Campbell's wife — but refused to give her name — told CBC she was shocked by the charges.
She said she was "surviving" the news and that she didn't know what her husband was up to online.
She also said she hadn't had the opportunity to speak with Campbell since his arrest on Thursday.
Suspect used software to mask IP addresses
Investigators said the suspect used software to conceal IP addresses.
RCMP and Ottawa police worked together by "utilizing investigative techniques that allowed for the identification of the unidentified suspect who was using internet anonymity software," Ottawa police said in a media release issued Friday.
A search warrant was executed Thursday at the suspect's home in Ottawa's west-end Britannia Park neighbourhood, police sources told CBC News Friday.
At least three computers were seized.
Multiple aliases were used in the alleged attacks, and the alleged victims include men, women and their families, police sources said.
"This had a very severe personal impact on our victims — not only personally, but also professionally," Cartright said.