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Temecula Hacker Who Threatened Women, Girls Pleads Guilty
Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Issue 44, Volume 17.
Jared James Abrahams was charged in September after an FBI investigation revealed he had contacted multiple victims worldwide with threats of distributing revealing snapshots, obtained illegally, unless they yielded to his various sexually-oriented demands.
During a change-of-plea hearing before U.S. District Judge Arthur Nakazato in Santa Ana, Abrahams dropped his not guilty plea and acknowledged responsibility for his actions.
Nakazato set a sentencing hearing for March 17. Abrahams could face more than two years behind bars and $1 million in fines. He remains free on bond.
Beginning last year and continuing through June of this year, the college freshman computer science major gained access to computers, email accounts and the social media accounts of his victims to obtain pictures of them, sometimes nude, that were taken from webcams, according to the plea agreement.
Abrahams threatened to embarrass the victims, including the reigning Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf, by posting nude photos of them online if they did not agree to have online video phone conversations with him or send him more lewd photos of themselves, according to court papers.
The defendant "extorted at least 12 young women in their late teens or early twenties in this manner," the plea agreement states.
The victims, who are identified only by their initials in the agreement, were particularly vulnerable because of their age, "and at least one of the victims, C.W., was vulnerable to defendant's threats because she was a model," according to the agreement.
The defendant used "hacking software" to control 100-150 computers of victims, according to the prosecution's statement of facts.
Temecula college freshman pleads guilty to online "extortion" targeting victims around the world
TEMECULA - A college freshman from Temecula agreed to plead guilty to an online "extortion" scheme that targeted victims around the world, including Miss Teen USA, a hometown girl he knew from high school, according to court documents obtained today.
Jared James Abrahams signed a plea agreement Oct. 22, and prosecutors filed the papers Friday.
On Monday, Abrahams is due in a federal courtroom in Santa Ana, where a judge is expected to set a date for him to enter a guilty plea, according to Thom Mrozek of the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Federal prosecutors asked that Abrahams be given 27-33 months in prison. The maximum sentence is 11 years, plus three years of supervised release and a $1 million fine for unauthorized access to computers and extortion.
Starting last year and continuing through June of this year, the computer science student gained access to computers, email accounts and the social media accounts of his victims to get pictures of them, sometimes nude, that were taken from web cams, according to the plea agreement.
Abrahams would threaten to embarrass the victims, including the reigning Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf, by posting nude photos of them online if they did not agree to have online video phone conversations with him or send him more lewd photos of the victims, according to the plea agreement.
"Defendant extorted at least 12 young women in their late teens or early 20s in this manner," according to the plea agreement.
The victims, who are identified only by their initials in the agreement, were particularly vulnerable because of their age,"and at least one of the victims, C.W., was vulnerable to defendant's threats because she was a model," according to the plea agreement.
Abrahams used "hacking software" to control 100-150 computers of victims, according to the agreement.
Abrahams was accused of obtaining nude photographs of Wolf, who he went to high school with in Temecula, while she lived in Orange and Riverside counties, according to the plea agreement. Abrahams posted nude photos of Wolf on Facebook when she did not respond to his extortion, according to the court document.
Abrahams made his initial court appearance Sept. 26 when his bail was set at $50,000.
Abrahams' attorney, Alan Eisner, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But after his client's first appearance in court last month, the attorney said Abrahams has been diagnosed with autism.
The defendant's family, through their attorney last month, expressed "profound regret and remorse for his behavior... They acknowledge the harm to the victims and the victims' families."
Abrahams has received some treatment for his autism before the alleged incidents took place, "but not to the level he apparently needs," Eisner said.
Wolf alerted the FBI to the alleged scheme. Wolf contacted authorities when she realized she could no longer change her passwords on multiple online accounts, and that an online profile photo of her was replaced with a semi-nude picture of her, according to the FBI.
Wolf then received an email containing a nude photograph of her, threatening to make her "dream of being a model ... into a pornstar" if she failed to capitulate to his demands for more explicit photos, according to a federal complaint.
The photos of Wolf were taken by Abrahams through a camera on her computer after he hacked into it, first at her Orange County home and later following her move to a Temecula residence, authorities said.
In April, Abrahams extorted a victim in Ireland with threats to post nude photos of her if she did not video chat with him on Skype, according to the plea agreement. The FBI alleged in its initial complaint that she was 17 years old.
The Irish teen got undressed while talking to Abrahams on Skype, a conversation the defendant recorded, according to the plea agreement.
Also in April, the defendant extorted another victim in Baltimore in the same manner, according to the plea agreement.
In May, Abrahams threatened to send nude photos of a victim in Canada to her friends if she did not do a video chat with him on Skype, according to the agreement. That victim also took off her clothes while he recorded the conversation, according to the agreement.
The teen in Ireland pleaded for mercy, according to the FBI's complaint.
"I'm downloading Skype now," the FBI alleges she wrote to Abrahams. "Please remember I'm only 17. Have a heart."
Abrahams is accused of replying, "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!!!"
Abrahams would promise to destroy the embarrassing photos if his alleged victims complied with his demands, according to the FBI complaint.
Abrahams is accused of using "malware," a software that infects other computers and allows hackers to take control of web cams, according to the FBI. Abrahams is accused of even heckling Wolf for making her password too easy to guess.
FBI investigators also allege Abrahams sought help with hacking from others in online forums.
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