A Temecula college student who hacked into close to 150 online accounts to extort young women into sending him nude photos and video was sentenced to federal prison on Monday, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office of Los Angeles.
Jared James Abrahams, 20, will serve 18 months for his role in the 'sextortion' case.
Abrahams targeted women he knew and found additional victims after hacking into Facebook pages. He took control of email accounts, social media accounts and the victim's computers, allowing him to turn on web cameras remotely and occasionally take pictures of naked victims, according to court documents.
He was able to do all of this using hacking software.
After obtaining nude photos, he would use them to extort young women by threatening to publicly post them to the victims' social accounts unless they sent him more compromising pictures or videos.
The FBI said he also extorted two teens by convincing them to undress during Skype sessions in order to keep their photos off the internet.
Several teens and women in their early 20's actually had their nude photos posted to their social media accounts.
"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, troubling and far-reaching," prosecutors wrote 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. Stated differently, individuals like [the] defendant have the ability to affect a person's life in frightening ways by using the broad reach of the internet," the memo concluded.
The FBI caught up with Abrahams after a victim reported his activity.
Agents advise people who receive extortion threats, or who've had the personal accounts compromised, to contact a parent, trusted adult or law enforcement.
They said the situation will only get worse with time.
Ways to avoid becoming a victim:
- Ensure passwords are difficult for others to guess
- Avoid opening unverified attachments
- Use reliable anti-virus software with updated definitions
- Cover webcam when it's not in use
Abrahams is the third case of sextortion investigated by the FBI in Southern California since 2011.