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Last Updated: Friday, 30 January, 2004, 19:17 GMT
Google date test 'nets US fugitive'
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"Googling" someone is becoming increasingly common
A suspected US fraudster on the run for a year has reportedly been caught after a woman checked his name on the Google website before meeting him for a date.

LaShawn Pettus-Brown was wanted in Ohio for allegedly siphoning off city funds from restoration projects.

The woman found his name on an FBI arrest warrant after using the Google search engine and contacted authorities, local media reported.

Analysts say using web engines to check people's credentials is now common.

'Good tip'

The woman, who has not been identified, told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that she was meeting Mr Pettus-Brown in a New York City restaurant last Friday evening, Cincinnati news channel WLWT reported.

Mr Pettus-Brown showed up to meet his date only to be greeted by several FBI agents, not the woman of his dreams.

"We had surveillance there to see if the tip was good and, lo and behold, the tip was good," FBI spokesman Jim Turgal told the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper.

He is currently being held in New York City but will be returned to Cincinnati, Ohio, to face the fraud charges, law officials said.

Mr Pettus-Brown was wanted in connection with a failed plan to rehabilitate a 90-year-old theatre in Cincinnati's city centre, the paper said.

The city is said to have lost more than $180,000 after investing in the project and the FBI told the newspaper that more than $90,000 paid to Mr Pettus-Brown is missing.

The use of the Google search engine to check out prospective dates has become so common that the company name has become a verb - "to Google".

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