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FBI Arrests California Hacker in 'Sextortion' Case

A Glendale, California man accused of hacking into hundreds of Facebook, Skype, and e-mail accounts and extorting women into showing him their naked bodies was arrested on federal computer hacking charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Karen “Gary” Kazaryan, 27, was arrested on Jan. 29 without incident by special agents with the FBI.

Hacker Arrested for SextortionAccording to the indictment, Kazaryan hacked into victims’ accounts and changed the passwords, essentially locking them out of their own online accounts. After taking control of the accounts, Kazaryan searched through e-mails to find naked or other risqué photos of the victims, as well as other information, such as passwords and the names of their friends. With 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, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

After figuring out they had been duped, and that they were not speaking with their friends, Kazaryan often extorted the victims again by using the photos he obtained to again coerce the victims to take off their clothes on camera, according to the indictment.

The indictment charges Kazaryan with 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of aggravated identity theft. If convicted on all counts, Kazaryan faces a statutory maximum penalty of 105 years in federal prison.

According to a search warrant executed in 2011 and unsealed on Tuesday, Kazaryan repeatedly contacted victims to demand that they expose their breasts to him over Skype and used their e-mail and Facebook accounts to contact other victims. If they failed to comply, Kazaryan allegedly posted the nude photos of some victims on their Facebook pages.

“Investigators estimate that Kazaryan victimized more than 350 women, but they have not identified all the victims whose accounts were hacked,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. “Authorities found approximately 3,000 pictures of nude or semi-nude women—some of which were taken from their online accounts, and some of which were taken by Kazaryan on Skype—on Kazaryan’s computer.”

Anyone who thinks they may have been a victim in this case is encouraged to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at (310) 477-6565.

Kazaryan was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in United States District Court.

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