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California man sentenced to prison in Miss Teen USA ‘sextortion’ case

California man sentenced to prison in Miss Teen USA ‘sextortion’ case

A California man who hacked into the computers of Miss Teen USA and other women and then extorted some of them into sending nude photos of themselves or undressing for him on video chat has been sentenced to federal prison.

Jared James Abrahams, now twenty years old, was sentenced Monday to 18 months in federal prison, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Central District of California.

Among Abrahams’ victims was Miss Teen USA, Cassidy Wolf, who had alerted authorities last year after she received an anonymous email that included attachments of nude photos of her in her own bedroom, and the sender demanded she “perform” for him or he would post the photos online.  Abrahams had hacked into Wolf’s computer and remotely accessed her webcam to obtain the photos without her knowledge.

Abrahams was arrested last year and other victims of his “sextortion” attempts were discovered.

From the US Attorney’s office:

Abrahams targeted young women he knew, and he identified other victims after hacking into Facebook pages. Using hacking software, Abrahams took control of victims’ email accounts, social media accounts and even their computers – which allowed him to remotely turn on web cameras and occasionally take pictures of naked victims.

Abrahams used the nude photos to extort victims by threatening to publicly post the compromising photos or videos to the victims’ social media accounts – unless the victim either sent more nude photos or videos, or engaged in a Skype session with him and did what he said for five minutes.

Several teens and women in their early 20s were victimized when Abrahams posted nude photos to their social media accounts. At least two victims consented to the Skype sessions proposed by Abrahams to keep their photos off the Internet.

Cassidy Wolf said last year that the incident had terrified her – I wrote at the time about her harrowing ordeal, and she described the experience in several media interviews.

Abrahams pleaded guilty in November to one count of computer hacking and three counts of extortion, after signing a plea agreement in October.

An attorney for Abrahams had indicated last year that his client wanted to take responsibility for his actions and noted that Abrahams was on the autism spectrum.

In a sentencing memo filed with the court, prosecutors emphasized how devastating these types of crimes can be for the victims.

“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. 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.”

Read previous coverage of this case at Legal Insurrection here.

[Featured image: NBC News/TODAY Show video]

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Comments

You know, honestly, I truly never understood people giving anything to blackmailers.

Once blackmail starts, it will NEVER STOP. They will keep demanding more and more from you, until you have no more to give. Then they release whatever they had on you anyway.

There truly is only one answer to blackmail. Tell them to pound sand, inform the police.

Logically, if this guy hadn’t been exposed, I guarantee that the blackmail would have gone from just demanding nude pictures and webcam shows to demanding they perform sex acts on him personally.

Henry Hawkins | March 18, 2014 at 2:39 pm

I don’t see how we can properly consider this story without viewing the actual photos and video of all these, um, naked young women. Please post links to the evidence.

And, did the fellow work for the NSA?

Probably not. Because at the NSA they can read the cops emails and listen to their phone calls so they rarely get caught. And, why do the NSA analysts all retire rich? You would to if you evesdropped on the Federal Reserve.

stevewhitemd | March 18, 2014 at 3:25 pm

18 months? Gotta be a typo, right? He got 18 years, didn’t he? Didn’t he? No?

    randian in reply to stevewhitemd. | March 18, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Why would he get 18 years for blackmail? I’m not convinced that blackmail should even be a crime. That said, his real crime was invading their computers and taking pictures.

Gary Trudeau gets 10 years and this pervert, and likely pedophile and when he gets out will be a rapist, gets 18 months?

TANJ

    Jazzizhep in reply to jakee308. | March 18, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    I am not a proponent of “Minority Report” type sentencing—punishing people for what they might do in the future.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Jazzizhep. | March 18, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      You will report to Dept. of PreCrime, Washington DC tomorrow morning, 8:00 am, for halo sleep and a Clarity prescription.

    Trudeau’s crime called for a longer sentence under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. It was a financial crime and the amount of money he received by defrauding people pushed the number of months higher. That, and the fact that he pretty much ignored a federal judge’s order to stop doin it.

    Had this kid tried to extort money from his female victims, rather than dirty pics, he would have been sentenced at a higher range.

The perp will not get hit with a sex crime and thus stays off the Sexual Offender website for the rest of his life. I read far his emails and he is not autistic. His communication skills are quite good. He terrorized and humiliated these young women. One of his victims was in Ireland making it an international crime. I hope the Irish try to extradite him when he gets out of Federal Prison. In Irish prison he would likely be degraded like he degraded his victim.

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