Jared James Abrahams, the 20-year-old who hacked into the computers of several women, including Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf, has been sentenced to 18 months in a federal prison. Abrahams pleaded guilty on November 12, 2013, to one count of computer hacking and three counts of extortion.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California revealed that Abrahams hacked into as many as 150 accounts with the purpose of obtaining information and content that he could use to extort his victims.
The man targeted both women that he knew personally, such as Wolf, and ones that he identified after hacking into Facebook pages. He used malicious software to break into email and social media accounts, and to hijack computers.
By taking control of his victims’ computers, Abrahams was able to remotely turn on their webcams and take intimate pictures of them. The photos were later used to extort the women. They were told that the compromising photos or videos would be posted online unless they sent more intimate photos or videos, or accepted to engage in a live 5-minute session on Skype.
At least two women accepted to take part in Skype sessions. Several victims, mostly teens and women in their early 20s, refused to give in to extortion so the hacker posted their private photos on their social media accounts.
“As digital devices, email accounts, and social media accounts now contain the most intimate details of the public’s daily lives, the impact of this type of hacking and extortion becomes more pronounced, troubling, and far-reaching,” prosecutors noted.
“In some cases, this type of criminal behavior can be life-changing for the victims – especially for vulnerable victims who may feel it is impossible to rebuild their tarnished reputations. Stated differently, individuals like defendant have the ability to affect a person’s life in frightening ways by using the broad reach of the Internet.”
Authorities started to investigate Abrahams’ activities after Wolf and others filed complaints with the police. Wolf was the first to make her story public. The FBI identified the hacker after one of the victims reported his extortion attempts.
Back in December 2013, a 27-year-old from Glendale, California, was sentenced to five years in prison for hacking into the online accounts of at least 350 women. The man, Karen “Gary” Kazaryan, stole embarrassing or explicit photos which he used to blackmail the victims.
He blamed his actions on depression and the use of marijuana.