News & Politics

Miss Teen USA ‘Sextortionist’ Sentenced to 18 Months for Hacking Dozens of Female Victims’ Computers

The 20-year-old student stole compromising images of women by hacking into webcams to extort them.

Jared James Abraham at his sentencing.

The college student responsible for hacking into the webcams of dozens of women in an attempt to extort them into sending nude pictures has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, UPI reported.

20-year-old Jared James Abrahams of Temecula, California pleaded guilty to one count of computer hacking and three counts of extortion.

Federal prosecutors said he used malware to hack into and take over more than 120 computers around the world over two years by taking control of the victims’ webcams.

The case made headlines last year when it came to light that one of the victims of sextortion included Miss Teen USA, Cassidy Wolf whom Abrahams knew from high school. 

Abrahams broke into Wolf’s and dozens of others email and social media accounts enabling him to take pictures of women using their own computer web cams, watching the victims without their knowledge.

His extortion tactic was then to threaten to post the photos online unless they agreed to send him more nude photos or participated in a five-minute nude Skype session.

Wolf notified the FBI in March 2013, which lead to Abrahams' arrest in November of last year.

It seems living in a technological era where it is all too easy to take photos and videos on our phones and computers has impacted  the right to privacy in ways that weren’t contemplated or in existent before, thus allowing people to become victims of sextortion and other tech crimes as prosecutors explained.

"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," prosecutors said in a sentencing memo.  “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."

The legislature has had a hard time keeping up with these advances in modern technology and computer crimes, as we saw with the online revenge porn phenomenon, leaving many of us feeling vulnerable. 

In this regard, prosecutors say computer users should cover their webcams when they are not in use and people should be prudent when posting images online.

At the hearing Abrahams allegedly showed remorse and apologized to his victims. Upon his release he will be supervised for three years.




Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.


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