A couple in Pretoria have been constantly wrongfully accused of crimes and other wrong-doings they haven’t committed due to a wrong IP address.
In a horror story for the digital age, a couple in Pretoria have shared their bizarre, frustrating and sometimes dangerous story about being constantly hounded for an array of bad things they didn’t do. Due to a wrong IP address, the couple has been wrongfully accused of various different things, like abducting a girl to saying hurtful things in comments on Facebook. In 2017, the Brooklyn SAPS even showed up at the couple’s door with a search and seizure warrant in relation to a stolen HP laptop.
This couple from Pretoria’s story isn’t unique. It has happened at least on two other occasions in the US. A home in Atlanta had a similar experience with stolen phones in 2016 and farm in Kansas also had its fair share of false accusations. The house in Pretoria is unique though, in that it’s the first place on a global scale that this issue with a wrong IP address has occurred.
So how can a wrong IP address cause all of this? And why are the couple and these two other places experiencing the same problem?
The reason why people keep mistakenly tracking down the couple in Pretoria as well as the two other places in the US, is due to wrong IP address mapping. Connected devices are given unique IP addresses. These IP addresses can be traced back to the devices and the location of the owner of the device can be tracked down, thanks to companies specializing in tracking people down using IP addresses. These locations aren’t always correct and don’t always pinpoint to an exact location, but more to a general area, as is the case with the couple in Pretoria.
It was discovered that the couple’s house has the wrong IP address, as it’s being picked up by tracing companies as the IP address for Pretoria as a whole. According to the report, over 1 million IP addresses have been assigned to entities in Pretoria and it was US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. No wonder the couple sometimes got up to 7 visits from people accusing them of things they didn’t do in one month.
After learning about the mistake, the couple requested that the wrong IP address be corrected. The US Agency complied with the request and updated the IP address to Church Square in Pretoria. The US Agency said that it was the first complaint about a wrong IP address it has received from a civilian.