It started with a Facebook post and it could end with an arrest and a $10,000 reward. All over fewer than a dozen parking spots.
Here’s what happened.
Someone used a local woman’s picture to create a fake Facebook profile that then posted an event to boycott The Blind Tiger. The Blind Tiger’s owner, Thomas Genin, did not take kindly to this and, because that is technically identity theft, Genin and Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam want to find out the person’s real identity.
Genin, who owns several restaurants across the Gulf Coast, is offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who will sign a sworn affidavit identifying the person who made the “Susan Ladner” Facebook profile and spearheaded the boycott.
Genin already has a $10,000 check written and just needs a name to put on it, he announced in a press release Thursday.
Adam said a woman contacted Facebook to have the profile removed, because she did not want her picture being used on the profile. She also filed a complaint with police.
Adam said the sheriff’s department is investigating, and the person who created the profile could be arrested on an identity theft charge.
Genin said he plans to file a civil lawsuit for defamation.
He leases parking spots in the Main Harbor Offices parking lot on Main Street, about a block away from his restaurant. Signs are posted at the spots regarding rules of parking. Vehicles that did not follow the rules or parked illegally were booted, and owners had to pay an $80 fee to remove the boot.
Over the weekend, “Susan Ladner” posted an event, Boycott The Blind Tiger, and it went viral. The event has been removed from Facebook, as has the profile.
Genin’s restaurant is not associated with the parking lot.
Genin is donating money gathered from the boots to CASA of Hancock County. The Blind Tiger in Bay St. Louis also is running The Boot Special for two weeks. For $10, people get a cheddar burger, a side of fries and a boot filled with beer. That money also goes to CASA.
“I am very committed to see that the folks who did this are brought to justice,” Genin said in an email.