YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: An 18-year-old Ukrainian man living in Rutherford created a fake online high school girl to establish a relationship with a New Jersey boy and then used him to help falsely report her kidnapping, prompting a massive search in Bulgaria, the government said today.
Andriy Mykhaylivskyy — who calls himself “Andriy Haddad” — was arrested this morning by agents from the U.S. Department of State after admitting the hoax earlier this month, federal authorities said.
Although investigators didn’t suggest a possible motive, they noted that Mykhaylivksy claimed the purported kidnappers wanted a $50,000 ransom payment.
Mykhaylivskyy created “Kate Brianna Fulton” using a photograph of another young woman, then brought her to virtual life through Facebook, Twitter, texting, Skype and “other electronic means,”a complaint filed by the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service says. It says he then “communicated with and maintained an electronic relationship” with an 18-year-old New Jersey man, beginning a year ago.
On July 2, the complaint says, the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau, Moldova, received a telephone call from Mykhaylivskyy, who identified himself as “Andrei Aylivsk,” claiming that his girlfriend”Kate Fulton” was kidnapped in Bulgaria four days earlier.
Kate’s mother, “Sylvia Fulton,” was “contacted by an unknown male who told her that her daughter had been kidnapped and that she had one week to pay $50,000 in ransom,” federal agents said Mykhaylivskyy told them.
They said he also provided the phone number that “Sylvia” had been given to arrange for the ransom payment, and said he’d called because she asked him to.
He said she’d contacted other embassies, although authorities found no record of that, according to the Department of State complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Newark.
Mykhaylivskyy (photos, above) also asked whether the embassy could pay the $50,000 ransom and was told that wasn’t possible, the complaint says.
Giving them phone numbers where he and “Sylvia” could be contacted, Mykhaylivskyy said he was in the Ukraine but headed to the U.S., it says.
On July 8, the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, got a similar call – this time from the New Jersey teen, who the government said believed that “Kate” was in trouble.
He provided the same date as Mykhaylivskyy, saying that she “had boarded a shuttle for her hotel but instead had been kidnapped.”
The New Jersey teen told federal agents that he was contacted by “Kate” in late August 2012. HE said they “entered into an online and texting relationship” but that she cancelled whenever he made plans to meet her.
He provided the Embassy’s Regional Security Officer with a screenshot of “Kate’s” Twitter account showing two tweets dated June 29, 2013. The screenshot shows the name “Kate Brianna Fulton” and Twitter account “@BriannaFulton.”
One tweet reads, “916-55-119,” and the other, “Someone help me.”
According to the teen, the “916-55-119″ tweet referred to “Kate’s” local cellular phone while she was in Bulgaria. Agents determined it wasn’t a valid number, however.
DSS agents then obtained subscriber information and up-to-date IP address information from Twitter.
Bulgarian police were notified and “responded by combing hotels, hostels and other lodgings in Burgas seeking information on the alleged victim,” the federal complaint says. “The Bulgarian border police also conducted searches of incoming passenger records.”
The DSS, meanwhile, contacted the school in New Jersey that “Kate Fulton” purportedly attended. Administrators quickly found the girl whose image they said Mykhaylivskyy used.
DSS agents interviewed the girl, who said she wasn’t friends with either Mykhaylivskyy or the other man outside of Facebook.
She also told them her Facebook profile and Twitter feed weren’t protected – meaning anyone could access her profile and photos.
The activity for the IP address from the Facebook account that they said Mykhaylivskyy created showed a gap of eight days when he was away, according to the complaint.
When he arrived at JFK Airport on Aug. 6, it complaint says, Mykhaylivskyy was questioned by DSS agents and admitted the hoax, while claiming that he began the relationship with the New Jersey teen as a “joke.”
It says he “admitted that he operated the online and digital profiles of ‘Kate Fulton” using photographs of an actual high school student from New Jersey without that person’s knowledge or permission.”
His own Twitter account shows Mykhaylivskyy traveling the country in recent weeks, with posts from Phoenix and various cities in California. Immediately after the Aug. 6 questioning, he says he tried but failed to get a one-way ticket to the Ukraine.
“Last time I’m ever gonna be nice to you,” was his last tweet, posted just after 1 a.m. today.
The 5-foot-9-inch Mykhaylivskyy professed to be an actor but listed his occupation online as a guard at the Secaucus Ice Rink.
He says in his online bio that he was “born and raised in Lviv, Ukraine” but at 5 years old moved to Jersey City from San Diego.
Mykhaylivskyy also claims he began acting when he was 10, and that his name “has been all over the [I]nternet” after appearances on reality shows in the Ukraine.
“Keep an eye out for him in the upcoming movie ‘Off Hollywood Movie’ and ‘The Messenger’ & ‘Three Sisters’ being filmed in Kiev, Ukraine, as well as many other Ukrainian shows,” the bio says.
One of his personal quotes: “They ignore you now, but they’ll need you later.”
Mykhaylivskyy was scheduled for an afternoon appearance in U.S. District Court in Newark.