The FBI has announced the arrest of a 27-year-old man over charges that he hacked computers and online accounts belonging to 350 female victims and blackmailed them into providing him with nude photographs and video calls.
Karen "Gary" Kazaryan, 27, was arrested in Glendale, California on Tuesday after being indicted on 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of aggravated identity theft, and faces a possible 105 years in the Big House if convicted. Police found over 3,000 images of women he is claimed to have targeted on his computer.
According to the FBI – which dubbed the case one of "sextortion" – between 2009 and 2010, Kazaryan hacked into women's computers and email accounts in search for images of the victim unclothed, as well as any passwords and details on their female friends. He would then contact these friends, pretending to be the victim, and persuade them to disrobe so he could take pictures of them.
The indictment also states that Kazaryan would use these pictures to blackmail some of his victims into providing more naked photographs or Skype video calls. It is claimed that in some cases he posted nude photographs on Facebook as punishment, after some women refused his demands.
Police say over 350 women have been traced from Kazaryan's records so far, but others are still unidentified. Anyone thought to have been affected by this should contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at +1 (310) 477-6565.
Sadly, these cases are becoming more and more common, and malware writers are increasingly catching on. Pictures have been stolen via peer-to-peer, social networking, and custom malware, and then used to extort more from the victims, who often keep quiet for fear of embarrassment.
For those with such saucy snaps, the solution is straightforward – air-gap them on offline storage like an SD card or portable hard drive whenever possible, and contact the police if you are targeted. Any embarrassment from an investigation could be as naught compared to the satisfaction of seeing a scumbag behind bars. ®