Jared James Abrahams, 19, a Southern California computer science student pleaded guilty to hacking the computers of several young women including the computers of Miss Teen USA. Abrahams secretly took pictures of several women without their consent and threatened to post their pictures online if they did not send him more naked photos.
Abrahams admitted, “I hacked several girls' computers and, using their webcams, took photos of them when they weren't aware.” Abrahams pleaded guilty to three counts of extortion (18 USC § 1951) and one count of unauthorized computer access (18 USC 1030) (CA Penal Code 502) facing up to 11 years in prison and fines up to $1 million when he's sentenced in March.
According to the evidence that the prosecution has gathered, Abrahams hacked into the computers of at least a dozen women in their late teens or early 20s from various states and countries, including Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf. Abrahams and Wolf went to high school together.
Court records say Abrahams also sent women anonymous emails telling them he had downloaded nude photos of them. He threatened to publish the pictures on social media if they did not send him additional pictures or undress for him. If the women complied, he promised to destroy the photos.
Abrahams knew he was extorting the women when he made the demands. He told the judge that he has autism and has been under treatment for 10 years. He said he was on three medications during the court proceedings but he said they would not affect his ability to enter a guilty plea.
His attorney said Abraham's autism played a contributing part in his schemes. His lawyer does not blame the conduct on autism and it is not an excuse for the conduct, but that's part of the full picture.
In Wolf's case, Abrahams was able to take nude photos of her without her knowledge and posted a naked photo of Wolf online after she did not respond to him. According to an FBI affidavit, Abrahams told Wolf: “Your dream of being a model will be transformed into a porn star.”
Abrahams is accused of employing similar hacking tactics used by a Florida man who was sentenced 10 years in prison last year after he broke into the personal online accounts of Scarlett Johansson and Christina Aguilera and posted revealing photos of them online. Read more about that here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/17/hollywood-hacker-christopher-chaney_n_2315137.html
I have worked on various federal cases involving charges of extortion, internet fraud, and computer hacking/unauthorized access of a computer. Here are a few examples:
In one case, I defended an El Cerrito man in an international internet fraud in which no charges were filed. http://www.bayarea-attorney.com/internal-fraud. I have also represented a client in an online fraud case where I was able to negotiate a disposition where no charges were filed despite allegations that he committed fraud against an online stock trading firm: http://www.bayarea-attorney.com/online-fraud . I have also represented a client in a highly publicized Federal Fraud Case, but after extensive negotiations with the U.S. Attorney's office no charges were filed against my client. http://www.bayarea-attorney.com/online-fraud
For more information:Guilty Plea in Miss Teen USA Extortion Case