An alleged Skype "sextortion" scheme in which hundreds of women were tricked and coerced into stripping on camera has landed an Arizona man behind bars.
Karen "Gary" Kazaryan, 27, targeted as many as 350 women over the Internet and stole naked pictures that he found by hacking into their accounts, authorities say.
He then used these photos to allegedly "extort" the women, forcing them to further pose naked over Skype in an elaborate ruse.
Kazaryan allegedly hacked into his victims' Facebook, Skype, and email accounts, the Los Angeles Times reports.
After getting into the private accounts, Kazaryan would change passwords and lock the victims out of their own accounts. He then searched through the accounts looking for revealing photos, according to the Times.
After obtaining the photos, prosecutors say Kazaryan would pose as the victims online. He somehow convinced the victims' friends to also remove their clothing online, so that he could take their pictures.
Then Kazaryan would extort the victims by contacting them and demanding that they strip again for him, via Skype. If they failed to comply with his demands, Kazaryan threatened to post the nude photos on their Facebook pages, reports the Times.
Kazaryan now faces 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of aggravated identity theft. He could go to jail for up to 105 years if convicted on all counts.
It's notable that Kazaryan was charged with a computer crime and identity theft, but not with extortion -- as the term "sextortion" would imply.
In a typical extortion case, the defendant is accused of stealing property or money by blackmail. In Kazaryan's case, federal prosecutors may have not charged the hacker with extortion, perhaps because convincing a woman to pose naked may not fit the definitions of either "money" or "property" under the law.
Nevertheless, even without criminal extortion charges, the alleged computer hacker faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison for the Skype "sextortion" scheme.
- 'Sextortion': Man tricked women into posing nude on Skype, FBI says (NBC News)
- State Extortion Laws (FindLaw)
- Mom Forced Daughter, 10, to Strip on Skype (FindLaw's Blotter)
- The FindLaw Guide to Online Fraud and Identity Theft (FindLaw - Free Download)