A Pittsburgh man tried to get revenge on an FBI agent who had investigated him more than a decade ago by posting a fake Craigslist “casual encounters” sex ad that contained the agent’s phone number, according to a grand jury indictment unsealed this week.
Frederick Banks, 47, now faces a federal charge of interstate stalking, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania said. Banks is accused of harassing the agent — identified in court documents as “T.P.” — through “telephone calls and a Craigslist posting.” Banks faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, if convicted.
Magistrate Judge Keith A. Pesto ordered Banks detained pending trial on Tuesday.
“I need a big d—,” the ad begins, according to a copy of the posting provided by the U.S. attorney’s office. The “m4m” (or “man-seeking-man”) ad describes the agent as a “married white boy” and says he and his wife “need s big sick [sic] all races welcome can play anytime.”
The ad describes the agent’s wife as “blonde gorgeous girl next door type” and makes a crude claim about the specific part of the agent’s body. The Craigslist ad includes a phone number to call.
Two people called the agent as a result, prosecutors have said. The indictment says that the ad “caused T.P. substantial emotional distress.”
In 2005, Banks went to prison for selling pirated versions of copyrighted software. The FBI agent, who now lives in Florida, was involved in the 2003 investigation that led to Banks’s conviction. In a separate case, Banks was also convicted of mail fraud in 2006. He was released in 2013 but ended up going back to prison shortly after for “submitting false financial information and other persons’ personal identifying information” on multiple applications for foreign exchange trading Web sites, according to a court document.
Banks singled out the FBI agent in question in an unsuccessful 2006 motion to vacate his conviction or get a new trial, accusing “T.P.” of conducting an illegal search of his home. “During a sting operation, even though he knows Banks has counsel and is in Europe on tour, he visits Banks’ home and performs an illegal warrant-less search and uses the poisonous fruits thereof to gain his conviction,” Banks wrote in the motion.
The government responded to Banks’ claim by noting that the girlfriend who was living with him then gave two FBI agents a “consensual tour of the residence” but that they did not remove anything from the home. Banks alleged that his girlfriend never signed a “consent form” agreeing to the search; however, prosecutors note, the girlfriend was “not required to sign a consent form” to allow agents to search the residence in which she lives.
Banks later claimed that the FBI agent “placed and pointed a handgun on the table” facing his ex-girlfriend before she testified at a hearing, according to a handwritten court filing from 2014.
Banks has not admitted to placing the Craigslist ad, Margaret Philbin, a spokesperson for the office of the U.S. attorney, said in an email. However, Banks “discussed at length the FBI Agent and the agent’s alleged actions (the pointing of the gun)” at an initial appearance for the stalking charge, and has claimed that the indictment is “retaliation for Banks’ reporting of what he alleged against the agent,” Philbin added.
Banks has a long history of litigation. In 2013, a judge threw out a lawsuit Bankshad filed claiming that the federal government was using “voice-to-skull” devices to control his mind; Banks said the government started using them to harass him because of the many lawsuits he has filed. According to one count, Banks has filed more than 300 lawsuits over the years.
Given Banks’s recent conduct — “coupled with the very different character” of the Craigslist ad that he is accused of writing — “I find that the defendant is a serious threat to the safety of TP and family and potentially others with whom the defendant has legal disputes,” Pesto, the magistrate judge, wrote in a Tuesday order that called for detaining Banks until his trial on the stalking charge.
Retaliatory Craigslist ads such as the one Banks is accused of placing are not new to the American justice system. In January, a California woman was placed under house arrest after she was convicted of a stalking charge. Kathy Rowe, 53, placed an online ad to seek revenge on a couple who outbid her on what she considered her dream home. The ad invited men to come to the home and rape the woman who lived there with her husband.
Rowe also impersonated the couple in replies to the ad, as the San Diego Union-Tribune reported:
“I love to be surprised and have a man just show up at my door and force his way in the door and on me, totally taking me while I say no,” Rowe wrote to one man who responded.
“Just stop by any Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. I like the element of surprise,” Rowe had written one of the men.
A man showed up at the home multiple times in response to the ad, the newspaper reported, but failed to gain entry into the house.
In 2013, a man pleaded guilty to placing a “casual encounters” ad that solicited the rape of his wife. The man, posing as his wife, asked men to fulfill a rape fantasy. Two men broke into their home in response, the Associated Press reported. One of them was “told to force his way inside and rape the woman there and not stop no matter how much she resisted,” according to investigators quoted by the AP. The woman held one intruder at gunpoint until police arrived and shot at another who tried to enter her home.
And in 2009, a Wyoming woman was raped in her home by Ty Oliver McDowell, who responded to a Craigslist ad placed by the woman’s ex-boyfriend, Jebidiah James Stipe. As in the other cases, Stipe impersonated his intended victim and claimed that the woman wanted to carry out a rape fantasy. Both men were sentenced to prison.
[This post has been updated with an additional statement from the office of the U.S. attorney]