PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Pasco County woman has now pleaded guilty in a strange case involving a faked kidnapping and cyber-stalking.
The Pasco Sheriff’s Office became involved in July 2018 when Tammy Steffen, 36, called 911 to report someone trying to abduct her daughter. Steffen led deputies to a wooded area behind her home and claimed someone tried to grab her daughter there.
Deputies found items behind the home and Steffen claimed she’s also received threatening phone messages and a headless doll at her home with a threatening message.
The report and the planted evidence were faked by Steffen in a failed attempt to frame a former business partner.
Steffen believed the former business partner of hers had sabotaged her attempt to win an online health and fitness contest.
The FBI became involved when they learned the case also involved online threats.
“In addition to sending threatening messages online, she spoofed calls, she also used voice disguising software,” said FBI Special Agent Kristin Rehler.
The FBI soon learned the plot by Steffen went much further.
“The extent of her crime is astounding. She used over 360 Instagram accounts and 18 email accounts, which the FBI identified and the defendant used to threaten her victims,” said Rehler, who says the FBI takes cases like this very seriously.
“In this case, the defendant traumatized victims and wreaked havoc on their lives. What we would say is, this investigation sends a clear message to those who think they can hide behind the internet and send threatening messages. This is a federal crime. The FBI will find you and we will arrest you,” he said.