Southern California ‘sextortionist’ gets 18 months in prison

He’s been dubbed the “sextortionist:” a purportedly soft-spoken Southern California kid who got caught last year hacking into young women’s computers, monitoring their webcams and threatening to expose them, literally.

His ransom? Nude images or forced participation in sexy Skype sessions.

Donning a blue blazer, Jared James Abrahams, 20, read a statement of apology in an Orange County courtroom on Monday when he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He said: “I can only imagine the pain for what I’ve done to you,” OC Weekly reported.

Abrahams’ parents said he is autistic and has trouble socializing or picking up on social clues. His mother said he has the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old, according to media reports.

Still, the computer science student tapped into the women’s webcams using malware last year. He hijacked their personal email, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and then he contacted them with messages demanding either the nude photos or a 5-minute video chat.

His victims include Miss Teen USA,  Cassidy Wolf, with whom he went to high school, and other women who were strangers, Reuters reported. Assistant U.S. Attorney Vibhav Mittal said he hacked 100 to 150 computers and extorted 10 to 12 women — victims in his hometown of Temecula and Woodland Hills in California, and some in Maryland, Canada, Ireland and Russia, according to the Orange County Register.

A plea agreement said Wolf refused to cooperate after he took over her social media accounts, so he posted a nude picture of her on her own Facebook page. It was quickly removed, according to the Register. Two others complied with his demands and undressed over Skype.

Abrahams, from Temecula, Calif., pleaded in November to three counts of extortion and one count of unauthorized access of a computer. Once released, he will be on supervised release for three years and a probation officer will supervise his computer use, the Register reported.

He said:

“Everything that I did was simply to feel a sense of involvement and to feel less alone.”

 

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Lindsey Bever is a national news reporter for The Washington Post. She writes for the Morning Mix news blog. Tweet her: @lindseybever
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