A California man who hacked into hundreds of Internet accounts and blackmailed women into stripping for him blames depression and marijuana use for his crimes.
Karen “Gary” Kazaryan, of Glendale, was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison after he admitted to hacking into hundreds of Facebook, Skype and email accounts to steal personal information and nude or seminude photos to coerce.
Then the 27-year-old Kazaryan “forced (the women) to perform in a degrading manner under the threat of exposure,” said U.S. District Judge George H. King, often over Skype.
Kazaryan changed the victims’ passwords, locking them out of their own online accounts, and searched their computers for embarrassing or private information.
Then he posed as the women and sent instant messages to their friends or persuaded the friends to remove their clothing so he could take pictures of them, investigators said.
When the victims refused his demands, Kazaryan posted nude photos of some of them on their own Facebook pages.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Wilkison, who argued for a six-year prison sentence, said many of the 10 victims she spoke to compared the invasion to a sexual assault.
“The victims called it rape because it felt like rape,” Wilkison said.
One victim said she’d known Kazaryan since high school.
“It has made it difficult to trust anyone I meet when someone I know could do something so abominable,” the victim said in a statement read by Wilkison during the sentencing hearing.
Kazryan’s attorney had argued for no more than a 30-month sentence, saying that some of the victims still had online contact with him.
But the judge interrupted, saying that some of those same women had begged Kazryan to stop threatening them.
Kazryan was arrested in January after investigators found that he may have victimized more than 350 women, some of whom remain unidentified.
Federal agents said they found about 3,000 nude or semi-nude images of women on his computer.
Kazaryan did not address the court at his sentencing hearing, but he told the judge in a letter that his mental health issues and drug use had caused his “immature and mindless” behavior.
“The lines between digital life and reality were blurred and out of control for me,” Kazaryan wrote.
Watch this video report posted online by KABC-TV: