A US student pleaded guilty Tuesday to hacking online accounts of Miss Teen USA and other women and threatening to publish nude photos of them, the FBI said.
Jared James Abrahams surrendered in September to FBI agents probing so-called “sextortion” cases, in which he made demands in return for agreeing not to release the pictures, and took a plea deal last month.
In court Tuesday, Abrahams pleaded guilty to four counts — three of extortion, and one of computer hacking — according to court documents released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Los Angeles.
One of the victims was current Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf, who for four years attended the same school as Abrahams in Temecula, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles. Both now 19, they left the school in 2012.
Abrahams could be jailed for up to 33 months, and fined up to $1 million for unauthorized access to computers and extortion, officials say. He is due to be sentenced on March 17, said Los Angeles FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.
A plea agreement filed last month detailed how, starting last year and continuing until June, the computer science student hacked into computers, email and social media accounts.
The pictures, sometimes nude in nature, were taken from webcams, said the plea deal, adding that Abrahams “extorted at least 12 young women in their late teens or early 20s in this manner.”
The investigation involved multiple victims in California, as well as Canada, Moldova and Russia. The most high profile was Wolf, who won the Miss Teen USA pageant in August.
Wolf called investigators in March after receiving threatening emails containing nude photos of herself.
The sender said he would distribute the pictures “all over the Internet” unless she either sent him a personal video of herself, joined him on Skype for a five-minute video chat during which she would have to do whatever he said, or sent him “good quality pics” of herself.
“Either you do one of the things listed or I upload these pics… on all your accounts for everybody to see, and your dream of being a model will be transformed into a pornstar,” he wrote, according to an affidavit.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]
‘Conspiracy, extortion and bribery’: Ex-prosecutor ticks off crimes Trump and Rudy may have committed with Ukraine gambit
On MSNBC Saturday, former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah laid out all the ways that President Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani could be breaking federal law with their apparent scheme to push Ukraine into digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.
"Extortion, conspiracy to engage in extortion, and violating federal election law," said host Alex Witt. "Do you agree with all those premises?"
"I do, Alex, and I would add one to that, which is federal bribery," said Rocah. "Here, Trump essentially was trying to get the Ukrainian president to bribe him, give him information about his political opponent in exchange for aid to the country. So, that is soliciting a bribe. And you know, look, we can get into this more. Obviously, this is my area of expertise, whether something violates federal criminal laws, but I do worry that we're going down a path that we went down with the Mueller investigation, because for the president of the United States, that is not the standard."
Giuliani’s public invitation to Ukraine to interfere in US elections opened the door for other countries to run to Trump
President Donald Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani turned heads with his bizarre, unhinged rant on national television that effectively urged Ukraine to continue trying to gather dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden — and for news outlets to take whatever they find seriously.
As Casey Michel wrote in The Daily Beast, even if this effort ultimately fails to turn up useful opposition research against Biden, this is a profoundly dangerous development for American democracy.
Trump whistleblower needs to go directly to FBI because Bill Barr can’t be trusted: Ex-FBI director
Appearing on MSNBC with host Alex Witt, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi blew up Donald Trump's claim that he is the victim of a "Ukraine Witchhunt."
He then added that the whistleblower who went to the inspector general with a serious charge against the president should take what he has and go to the FBI within a week if nothing happens.
"We've got to get to the bottom of this, and we can't rely on leaks and certain reporters getting certain tidbits of information," the ex-FBI man explained. "This needs to be explored and it's likely this could end up in a criminal investigation."