A fitness trainer and mother of four was sentenced to five years in prison after concocting an elaborate revenge plot that involved 369 dummy Instagram accounts and a fake kidnapping attempt of her own daughter.
According to The Washington Post, Tammy Steffen of Holiday, Florida (a Tampa suburb) sent threatening messages to an ex-business partner, as well as people she thought were her competitors, from the fairly staggering number of phony IG pages.
"I plan to slice you up into little pieces," she said in one such threat."Your blood shall I taste.”
The Post reports that Steffen sent threats to at least six people over two years, while also badgering them with threats via phone calls, text messages, and emails. As an(other) example of the types of threats she was sending, one text sent alongside a picture of a woman holding a pair of knives reportedly said, “All hell is gonna rain fire down on your world like never seen before. I'm coming."
It's unclear how long this would have continued if not for Steffen escalating the scheme by telling the cops that a Latino man had tried to kidnap her 12-year-old daughter from her home in July 2018. This phony allegation came five days after Steffen had phoned police to tell them that a headless doll was placed on her front step with a note that said "New toy for the kids." During the (fake) kidnapping attempt the child urinated on herself, which police believe Steffen also had her do to make the allegations more convincing.
When police took their report, Steffen told them that she thought a person she once co-owned a gym with could be a suspect. Reportedly her motive was the belief that the man had sabotaged her chances to win an online fitness competition, which was a conclusion that was mistaken according to authorities.
As police came to her residence to investigate her claim, she told them that the man aborted the attempt and fled into the woods behind her house. Investigators then scanned the woods, and during that scan Steffen pointed out a hidden laptop case that was paired with info on her and her home.
Later on Steffen's daughter asked investigators "what would happen to (her mother) if she told the truth," which led to police scanning her mom's phone because now they were suspicious. In that phone they found texts in which Steffen accused her former business mate of ruining her chances to win the online fitness contest. Police also went on to find footage of her buying an identical laptop case at a local Walmart.
To wrap the whole saga up, she pled guilty to charges filed against her, which included: filing a false police report, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, and tampering with a witness. That latter charge came after she asked her preteen daughter to take a fall for the crime in a recorded phone call from jail. She was also charged with stalking and cyberbullying after her online threats were discovered.