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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