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Arrest Made in "Sextortion" Case Involving Hijacking WebCams Including Miss Teen USA
A college student was arrested Thursday for allegedly hijacking the webcams of young women -- among them reigning Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf -- taking nude images, then blackmailing his victims to send him more explicit material or else be exposed.
Jared James Abrahams, a 19-year-old computer science student from Temecula, California, surrendered on Thursday to the FBI on federal extortion charges, the agency announced. Authorities say he victimized young women surreptitiously, by taking control of their computers then photographing them as they changed out of their clothes.
Abrahams appeared in court later in the day, then was released "on intensive pretrial supervision and home detention with electronic monitoring" after his parents signed bond agreements totaling $50,000, FBI spokeswoman Lourdes Arocho said. U.S. District Judge Jean Rosenbluth ruled that he could use a single desktop computer at his parents' home for school only, albeit only after monitoring software is applied.
When he admitted what he'd done in June, Abrahams said he had 30 to 40 "slave computers" -- or other people's electronic devices he controlled -- and has had as many as 150 total, according to acriminal complaint.
His arrest came six months after a teenager identified in court documents as C.W. alerted authorities. She has since publicly identified herself as Cassidy Wolf, the recently crowned Miss Teen USA. She touted news reports of her alleged tormenter's arrest�on her Twitter feed.
At the time she contacted police, in March, Wolf was not a national figure -- even though she was Miss Teen California -- and lived in an apartment and attended Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.
Wolf got a Facebook alert that someone had tried to change her password to the social networking site, then noticed other passwords had been changed and that her Twitter avatar was now a half-nude picture of herself.
A short time later, she received what would be the first of many messages, this one featuring pictures of Wolf at her Riverside County address and others apparently taken months earlier when she lived in Orange County, says the criminal complaint. The message explained "what's going to happen" if Wolf didn't send pictures or videos or "do what I tell you to do" in a five-minute Skype videoconference, according to the criminal complaint.
"Either you do one of the things listed below or I upload these pics and a lot more (I have a LOT more and those are better quality) on all your accounts for everybody to see and your dream of being a model will be transformed into a pornstar (sic)," he wrote.
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