Friday 23 March 2018

Girl had to pose naked for 'webcam blackmailer'

US student hacked into computer and threatened Irish teen, says FBI

The Irish teen was forced to pose naked. Picture posed by model
The Irish teen was forced to pose naked. Picture posed by model

Sean O'Driscoll

AN Irish teenager was forced to strip online to stop an extortionist from spreading nude photos of her, the FBI has confirmed.

The alleged extortionist then emailed the current Miss Teen USA to tell her she had better follow the Irish girl's example or she too would have her naked photos made public.

It is a bizarre case that raises questions about the security of computer webcams, which the stalker was allegedly able to turn on and off to take photos of dozens of teenagers in their own bedrooms.

The device, used on thousands of Irish computers for video chats on Skype and other online services, was manipulated to secretly record at least two Irish women, the FBI said.

A criminal complaint against 19-year-old Californian suspect Jared James Abrahams says he hacked into women's computer video cameras and secretly recorded them as they walked around naked in their bedrooms or were changing clothes.

When blackmailed last April, the Irish girl pleaded for mercy.

"Please remember I'm only 17. Have a heart," she said, before agreeing to strip for him to stop him posting naked photos of her online.

After she begged him to show mercy, Abrahams is alleged to have sent her an email saying: "I'll tell you this right now! I do NOT have a heart!!! However, I do stick to my deals! Also, age doesn't mean a thing to me!!!"

The teenager is identified by the initials "MM" by the FBI. Abrahams allegedly communicated with her after hacking into her Hotmail account.

According to an affidavit by FBI agent and cybercrimes specialist Julie Patton, she and other agents found MM lived in Ireland by searching information online.

She said that last April 11, MM agreed to download Skype and show her naked body to her anonymous blackmailer so that he would not distribute naked photos of her that he had already captured on her hacked webcam.

Agent Patton wrote that MM's dilemma showed "the difficulty the victims had with the choices Abrahams gave them".

Abrahams, a computer science student, then used the Irish girl's immediate compliance as an example when he tried to pull off the same crime against current Miss Teen USA, Cassidy Wolf, a month later.

He hacked into Wolf's computer, changed her Facebook password and posted a half-naked photo of her as her Twitter profile.

He then told her that he would post "a lot more" naked images of her unless she either sent him more naked photos of herself or did everything he wanted her to do for five minutes during a Skype video call.

Agent Patton said Abrahams then emailed Wolf and told her she should follow the "immediate compliance" shown by the Irish girl.

The FBI claims he also preyed on several Irish women as well as dozens of other victims.

Abrahams was released on $50,000 bond in Los Angeles last Thursday and will be fitted with an electronic monitoring device.

He is due to be arraigned on November 4.

Sunday Independent

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