Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Man in 'Sextortion' Case Might Have Coerced 350 Women

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Man in 'Sextortion' Case Might Have Coerced 350 Women

Article excerpt

Federal agents on Tuesday took aim at a new type of scam called sextortion, arresting a Glendale, Calif., man on charges that he hacked into e-mail and Facebook accounts of young women and then posed as a woman to convince others to send him nude photos of themselves.

Karen Gary Kazaryan was named in a 30-count indictment charging him with gaining unauthorized access to e-mail, Facebook, and Skype accounts belonging to more than 100 women from 2009 to 2011.

Once hed hacked into an account, Mr. Kazaryan would change the password and then pose as the female owner of the account, according to the indictment.

He would contact the account holders female friends and attempt to persuade or extort them into removing their clothing so he could photograph them via their webcams.

The sextortion scam is a variation of the practice of sexting, sending nude images of ones self over the Internet to others.

The indictment says Kazaryan used naked or semi-naked images of victims to force them and other victims to remove their clothing again and again.

Investigators suspect he may have victimized more than 350 women. They found more than 3,000 photos of nude or semi-nude women on Kazaryans computer, according to court documents.

Some of the explicit photos were discovered in his victims accounts and others had allegedly been taken by Kazaryan via Skype.

The indictment charges 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of identity theft. If convicted, Kazaryan faces up to 105 years in prison.

Last week, a Montgomery, Ala., man was sentenced to 35 years in prison after admitting that he carried out a sextortion scheme from 2009 to 2011 against young girls across the country, including a 14- year-old girl and 15-year-old girl, both in Louisiana.

He was charged with producing child pornography and engaging in interstate extortion.

Christopher Patrick Gunn used computers, chat rooms, and other social media to befriend and then eventually coerce teenaged girls into sending him explicit photos of themselves via the Internet.

Investigators identified various ruses used by Mr. Gunn. In one he would pose as the new kid in town. Hed send messages over Facebook and engage young girls in web-based conversations. …

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