Boston Police Are Catfishing Locals To Bust Punk Rock Shows

from the wicked-hardcore dept

The last time I bothered to read about anything involving the internet term “catfishing”, it was to discuss how Deadspin broke the story of Manti T’eo and his fake, but still quite beloved, dead girlfriend. I’ll admit I was unfamiliar with the term before that, but I have since discovered that catfishing, the process by which you fool someone online into thinking you are a persona you’ve concocted, is more common than I had thought. It has even warranted an entire show on MTV, because that network apparently forgot what the M in their name stands for. And, though I am aware that law enforcement officers will occasionally go undercover to infiltrate criminal networks, I hadn’t really ever considered that there might indeed be catfishing police out there in the world.

Further on that point, if I had managed to consider that possibility, I wouldn’t have imagined the police would catfish to bust up punk rock shows at the residences of citizens. Yet this is exactly what the police in Boston are attempting. Though they’re not doing a very good job of it.

A recently passed nuisance control ordinance has spurred a citywide crackdown on house shows—concerts played in private homes, rather than in clubs. The police, it appears, are taking a particularly modern approach to address the issue: They’re posing as music fans online to ferret out intel on where these DIY shows are going to take place. While police departments have been using social media to investigate for years, its use in such seemingly trivial crimes would be rather chilling, if these efforts didn’t seem so laughably inept. It’s a law enforcement technique seemingly cribbed from MTV’s Catfish—but instead of creating a fake persona to ensnare the marks in a romantic internet scam, it’s music fandom that’s being feigned.

It truly is a brave new world, friends, when adult police can ape young punk rockers online. Or it would be, rather, if the police were generally any good at it. Sadly, or perhaps hilariously, those doing the catfishing appear to think the punk rock scene represents little beyond well-traveled young people stereotypes and lingo from the late-nineties.

“Boston Punk Zombie,” reads the crudely-scrawled avatar of a green-mohawked punk with the address That name is apparently a generic-brand knockoff of an infamous Boston hardcore gang. Cred achieved. “What’s the point” reads the tagline under the profile pic. “Too bad you were not here this weekend,” “Joe Sly” wrote. “Patty’s day is a mad house I am still pissing green beer. The cops do break balls something wicked here. What’s the address for Saturday Night, love DIY concerts.”

One’s mind revolts at the idea of hardcore, mohawked young man in skinny black jeans and leather, his piercings widening his lobes, drinking green St. Patrick’s Day beer. And that isn’t even the worst of the bunch.

“Hey there, local P native here,” wrote one probable imposter to a local band, (who probably meant to type JP, slang for Jamaica Plain). “What is the Address for the local music show tonight?”

As Slate notes: music show!?! But even beyond the tortured word-choice, you can just tell it’s wrong reading it, can’t you? As with any carpet-bombing/trolling approach, the police have busted up some shows, and none of this is to say that these do-it-yourself concerts aren’t an irritating form of noise-pollution for the local neighbors, but is this really where police should be spending their time and resources? Creating fraudulent social media accounts (don’t us regular folk get in trouble for such skilled h4x0r-ing?), filling up the pictures with a couple of stock images of Slayer, and then doing their best cool, young kid impression? I haven’t yet been able to visit Boston, but I would hope that a city that size would at least have enough pride in itself to warrant a more substantial level of crime than some kids listening to music.

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Comments on “Boston Police Are Catfishing Locals To Bust Punk Rock Shows”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Most of what police do is a pointless waste of time. Here is one example written by hairyfeet on slashdot

“Bingo! I’ve been called in to fix and upgrade computers for the cops in my area and it always amazed me how much time they just waste doing dumb shit on the PC, but hell I’ve found that is true of pretty much any government org. There is one secretary at the county clerks office I honestly am hoping will break soon since she hasn’t been in in a year and I’m curious to see what amount of time she has wasted in Freecell to date, last time I worked on her maybe 3 year old PC she had something like 10,000 hours in Freecell, just nuts.

But this isn’t something new, cops like to say they “work online” as it sounds cooler and they don’t have to leave the AC and the donuts. I ran a chat board for PC problems in the 90s when that whole “to catch a predator” shit became popular and I don’t know how many times I had to threaten to file harassment charges because of cops talking dirty on the board. I finally asked a few of them “WTF makes you think a board with such stimulating topics like “No sound in Win95” and “Can’t find a printer driver WinNT” is gonna be the place to pretend to be jailbait?” and they came right out and said pretty much all the social boards were already being trolled by cops, so they were just picking random places that weren’t already being trolled.

So even back then you had cops doing shit that was completely fucking pointless, but they could tell their boss “hey we are working online” and get paid to sit on their asses. This is what happens when you have zero oversight as I’m sure the people of Boston would rather have safer streets and less muggings and rapes but then they’d have to get up, go to the car, actually drive around…that is like work folks, can’t have that.”

Which isn’t in the least bit surprising. I’ve heard other stories from others about how most of what police do is a waste of time. Not that I’m against having police, I do think we do need police for those critical moments but part of the problem is that those critical times when they are needed can be unpredictable (and obviously stats can’t be used to determine this because criminals may simply choose to do crimes when they know not so many cops are working if you choose to reduce staff during times when you know crime rates are lower. Then again, most criminals are drunk druggies that aren’t that intelligent).

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

PJ? so it wasn’t jamaican plains then…

No, it wasn’t, because anyone who lives in the Boston area knows that people who live in Jamaica Plain are not “curb stomping” anyone.

To be sure, JP has its share of crime (especially on the border of Dorchester). But “curb stomping” implies a racially-motivated white power crime (a la “American History X”), and the folks who do this are not JP locals.

They are arguably Southies, but that’s kind of a stereotype. Honestly, the people who do hate crimes here either come from Dorchester or Roxbury (if black-on-white) or a suburb of Allston (if white-on-black), the latter mostly because they’re Boston College frat yokels.

But maybe that’s just my experience.

Karl (profile) says:


This is indeed bad news for anyone involved in the Boston music scene.

For those who don’t live here, the reason house shows have exploded is because Boston’s official government doesn’t recognize the fact that a local music scene serves any beneficial purpose to the city. Compare this with Providence. Even though “house shows” have been (and are) shut down, and venues closed, the Providence government has at least acknowledged that Providence DIY shows are an important part of the city’s cultural landscape. (Just not enough, apparently, to protect from developers.)

Boston, to my shame, does not even go this far.

I have known, and do know, a lot of people who are the movers and shakers in the “DIY house venue” scene. It’s where I’ve performed the majority of my sets.

This story probably will surprise no one. However, it represents a new low in law enforcement. Generally, law enforcement let house shows slide unless there was a complaint by someone (e.g. a neighbor) who objected to it. The fact that they’re proactively shutting down shows that nobody complains about is just another indication of Boston’s eventual music downfall.

copzRbogus says:

Re: Unfortunate

(i)I have known, and do know, a lot of people who are the movers and shakers in the “DIY house venue” scene. It’s where I’ve performed the majority of my sets.(i)

I know, right. I can dig it. I’m totally down with how lame those cops are. I am a long time groover of local music bands, too. I would like 2 exchange information with you about what scenes you are hip 2. We can party and fight and drink popular brands of beer together. Hit me up on my pager if you wanna hang out.

special-interesting (profile) says:

No way could anyone consider on-line cruising to be as effective as actual patrolling. One might be critical in that way and be right in every claim. Its a fact that violence, murder, armed bank robberies, domestic violence and etc, etc. are much worse than any Internet scam, porn weirdness or whatever Cybermen invasion is suspected by the higher-ups.

However its not obvious about how police and other enforcement agencies are funded and that is by grants, projects and other financing tools derived from larger agencies to push congressionally supported initiatives deemed important. A lot of these are straight from special interest group suggestions but thats common knowledge already.

Why are the police trying to break up what is obviously a social cultural event. What is really going on here anyway. Parties at private residences has got to be listed as a right somewhere? (no? Well it should be!) Something like ?freedom of life, liberty, justice and to party like hell if you want? would be appropriate.

Is the freedom to assemble in that much jeopardy that we cannot even throw a party at our own house and get our friends to play music? This has got to be more than performance rights enforcement even if they were using that as an excuse. To the extent that the police were trying to lie and infiltrate it sounds like the punkers were considered (Cybermen. haha) terrorists. -pukes in disgust-

There are a lot of unanswered questions about this kind of behavior. Any answers might not be pretty. The only threat this group might represent is political so why the high level action?

Several times have I verbally criticized local government about the apparent waste of spending grants that basically increased operating costs forever by starting programs and making promises that were likely nuts. Since the only thing that was seemingly important to them were the number of employees on the payroll all my economic and financial wisdom was wasted. Tax increase referendums have been presented at every election for several years now. Not surprised, just depressed.

To address this problem it would be necessary to conquer the constitutional misguidedness of the branch of congress, executive branch and resulting judicial enforcement of the 49 million filler pages put out by special interest infested legislation.

A big task but please start by donating to the EFF or some such un-hijacked (yet?) group with clear intent. A few Representatives and Senators have shown some promise and even if they are not from your state please consider donating anyway.

Shon Gale (profile) says:

Why not! It’s business as usual. The police are liars, they make their living that way.
Granny told me and I quote “3 professions you can never trust are Lawyers, Police and Politicians. They all lie for a living.”
With the police they call it a sting. It’s still a lie, a con job. You can’t believe anything any police officer ever tells you. They are the enemy.

vastrightwing (profile) says:

Remember Adult swim

Yes, Boston is home to the country’s finest: they freak out over hoax devices, shut down the city when they see a brown paper bag on the street, arrest Boston occupiers, spend hours “patrolling” on the internet for crimes that aren’t real crimes.

So now police won’t investiage most incidents until someone yells “gun” or a shot is fired. So basically they will only investigate a potential crime possibility as long as they can do it inside a climate controlled office with coffee? Did I get it right?

gorehound (profile) says:

Fucking Boston Cops were always Assholes ! I am from Lynn and was the Original Punk Rocker of that Area.
I also had started going to Protests in 1969 in Boston/Cambridge.These guys were a bunch of creeps.They were creeps then and they still are a bunch of creeps.

And so……………Who remembers Thayer Street Loft Parties in the 1970’s Boston Punk Scene ?

I was the guy who recorded bunch of La Peste,Thrills, Lyers, and Unnatural Axe.I also had a really mental band called “The Transplants” .
I am really Jordan the old decrepit Radical.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Noise concerns

My brother is in a local band. (He lives nowhere near Boston, BTW.) They’ve done house shows a few times.

Before each show, they go around and let the neighbors know what’s going to be going on, when the show will be, and when it will be over, and make sure they’re OK with it. If not, they find another venue.

They’ve never had the police called on them or gotten any noise complaints. A little courtesy goes a long way, even in this day and age…

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:

Just so suckage!

What is it about house concerts that should be outlawed? Noise – ok, I can understand that, but just for being? My wife and I put on several house concerts a year in our home outside of Chicago – mostly old-time and bluegrass, but that is irrelevant, IMO. Over the years, we have had some of the top performers in the business, including Andy Statman and David Grisman. We have fit up to 50 fans in our basement venue…

As for the noise and nuisance factor, we deal with that by inviting our neighbors to come and meet the artists. Over the past 15 years doing this, we have NEVER had a complaint.

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