Two so-called “sextortion” prison terms were handed down on Monday. The Silicon Valley hackers had pled guilty to hacking plots that included a threat to reveal naked photographs of online professional poker players who didn’t pay off the extortionists.
Twenty-three year old Tyler Schrier was sentenced to 42 months. He admitted to multiple counts of conspiracy, extortion, and illegal access. A bold repeat criminal, he has acknowledged that he even went back and stole $4,000 more from an online poker account while free on bail for the original charges.
Keith James Hundson, 39, got two years for his role in the hacking and theft of the naked photographs.
A third plotter, 22-year-old Ryder Finney, has pled guilty but not yet been sentenced.
Most of the victims were only identified by their initials. However, California poker player Joe Sebok, the stepson of top pro Barry Greenstein, was exposed when Schrier emailed his nude photo to approximately 100 people. Sebok had refused to pay blackmail to the sextortionists.
Before US District Court Judge James Otero handed down the sentences, Sebok was allowed to give a victim’s impact statement. Saying that his life was shattered, Sebok said that the emailed naked photo “instantly damaged my ability to sustain my livelihood doing what I had been since 2005.”
Sebok has since quit professional poker and as of late 2012 was working at a hard labor “rat cellar” job at a winery in Northern California.
Don’t get me wrong. Blackmailers need to go away and the farther away, the better.
But the reality is that the poker economy has completely collapsed since Black Friday in April 2011 when US federal authorities launched a criminal case against the three largest online poker businesses then accepting business from US players. Since then, there just hasn’t been that much money for US players to get, and there’s been a huge outflow of professionals leaving the game, whether or not they had any naked pictures floating around.
And Joe Sebok’s reputation was already in tatters — and not because anyone cared about his junk. In September 2009, he accepted a job with Ultimate Bet, which was at the center of a huge superuser scandal. As a mouthpiece and excuse-maker for the broken UB, Sebok became a figure of scorn and mockery to most poker players.
Posters on popular poker forum Twoplustwo are still a little bitter.
Said SixToed Pete: “I’ve seen his nude pics. He has the package of a church mouse. Anyway, as others have said, this scandal is not what really hurt Joe’s career.”
Said a more courteous poster called Scott Tom: “It is possible these guys only had a public defender and have no idea that Joe Sebok is actually a bigger scumbag than they are. There is definitely mitigating evidence that Joe Sebok’s career was not destroyed at all by the extortion plot, in fact it might have even helped him…You wouldn’t even need to bring up how he helped UB steal millions of dollars from innocent victims.”
Few people believe that Joe Sebok was much of a poker player, although I think we can all agree that he should have been allowed to keep his pants on.
What’s your thought on the sextortion prison terms?
[poker dealer photo by Artkot via Shutterstock]