Boston Police Are Catfishing Locals To Bust Punk Rock Shows


A recently passed nuisance control ordinance has spurred a citywide crackdown on house shows—concerts played in private homes, rather than in clubs

By Timothy Geigner | Tech Dirt

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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