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A Southern California man was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison Monday for a “sextortion” scheme involving about a dozen young women, including current Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf.
Jared James Abrahams, 20, of Temecula, Calif., pleaded guilty in November to one count of computer hacking and three counts of extortion with extortion for allegedly using malicious software to control the computer webcams of victims and take nude photographs or videos, and then allegedly sending emails to the victims threatening to publish the photos or otherwise harm their reputations.
At the time he was charged, Abrahams admitted to infecting the victims’ computers with “malware” to access their data and control their webcams and then using a "Virtual Private Network" to disguise his identity when he sent threatening emails. The Cal State-San Marcos student said he had watched his victims change their clothes.
Abrahams also said that a victim identified in the complaint as “C.W.” was the first person whose computer he hacked, and that he knew her personally.
The complaint says that the FBI first learned of the alleged sextortion in March via then 18-year-old "C.W.," who became concerned when she received an alert from a social networking site saying her password had been changed.
She said she then received "an extortionate email" with nude photographs attached. The sender, according to the complaint, said that C.W. should comply with his demands or have her nude photographs "plastered all over the internet."
He also threatened to turn her "dream of being a model ... into a pornstar," according to the criminal complaint.
The victim told the FBI that she had never knowingly allowed anyone to take nude photographs of her, and had never taken any herself. Abrahams gained unauthorized access to the accounts of multiple victims in southern California and Maryland, as well as in countries believed to include Ireland, Canada, Russia and Moldova. At least one alleged victim was a minor.
In one instance, says the complaint, a victim identified as M.M. 1 agreed to communicate with Abrahams via Skype. She told him, "I'm downloading Skype now. Please remember I'm only 17. Have a heart."
Abrahams allegedly responded, "I'll tell you this right now. I do NOT have a heart!!!"