The Miss Teen USA sextortion case is coming to an end.
A Temecula, California, teen plead guilty in federal court to hacking into the computer of the recently crowned Miss Teen USA and taking naked photographs, and then trying to extort her with them.
In a court filing submitted on Monday, 19-year-old Jared James Abrahams agreed to plead guilty to illegally accessing the computers of at least 12 women with the intention of extorting them.
Cassidy Wolf, who was an acquaintance of Abrahams, went public to talk about details of the plot to extort her.
Prosecutors said that Abrahams hacked into the webcams of the women, who ranged from late teens to early 20s. The alleged targets lived across North America and in Ireland. Abrahams admitted using malware to gain access to his victims’ computers, and snapped pictures while they were changing clothes.
He confronted the victims with the photos, and threatened to publish them to their social media accounts unless they either gave him more photos or a private showing in which they did whatever he directed. Abrahams admitted to forcing at least one victim to “go on Skype and take her clothes off at his direction,” an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Julie Patton read.
Prosecutors said Abrahams was ruthless with his victims. When one told him that she was only 17 and asked him to “have a heart,” Abrahams responded:
“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 Miss Teen USA sextortion case was one of a string of cases in which naked pictures or video were stolen from computers. Last year a hacker targeted a group of celebrities including Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis, stealing naked photos that they had taken and stored on personal computers and electronic devices.
Mathew J. Schwartz, a cybersecurity expert with InformationWeek, said the kind of sextortion scheme that Abrahams used on Miss Teen USA is rampant on the internet.
“There’s a subculture that thrives on trading stolen webcam images,” he wrote. “Perusing a section of HackForums.net devoted to RATs produces a wealth of images labeled as ‘hot female slaves’ and ‘ugly slaves,’ reported Sydney Morning Herald. Recent posts have promised ‘150+ slaves over night!’ while one tutorial was titled, ‘How to keep the slave for as long as possible [Easy Steps].’ Comments on the post stretched to 19 pages.”
Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf attended the same school school as Abrahams in Temecula.