US man arrested for mass webcam blackmail

A man from California who is alleged to have blackmailed more than 350 women after convincing them to remove their clothes in front of their webcams has been arrested by the FBI. If found guilty of 'sextortion', he could receive a jail sentence of up to 105 years.

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According to prosecutors, 27 year-old Karen "Gary" Kazaryan hacked into hundreds of Facebook, Skype and email accounts and changed the passwords to prevent the owners from gaining access. He then obtained naked or semi-naked pictures and threatened the victims that he would post them online publicly, unless they took their clothes off on camera for him.

A press statement from the US Department of Justice reads: "Once he controlled the accounts, Kazaryan searched emails or other files for naked or semi-naked pictures of the victims, as well as other information, such as passwords and the names of their friends. Using that information, Kazaryan posed online as women, sent instant messages to their friends, and persuaded the friends to remove their clothing so that he could view and take pictures of them."

Authorities said that there were approximately 3,000 pictures of nude or semi-nude women on Kazaryan's computer. Some had been taken from online accounts, while others had allegedly been captured by Kazaryan himself on Skype.

The statement continued: "When the victims discovered that they were not speaking with their friends, Kazaryan often extorted them again, using the photos he had fraudulently obtained to again coerce the victims to remove their clothing on camera. In some cases, he had gone through with the threat to publish the images.

He faces 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of aggravated identity theft.

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