Karen “Gary” Kazaryan, 27, was arrested without incident Tuesday by FBI agents. He is charged in a federal grand jury indictment with 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of aggravated identity theft, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
He faces 105 years in federal prison if convicted on all counts.
The indictment alleges that Kazaryan hacked into the victims’ Facebook, Skype and email accounts and changed the passwords, locking victims out of their own online accounts. He then allegedly searched emails or other files for naked or semi-naked pictures of the women, as well as other information, such as passwords and the names of their friends.
Kazaryan then posed online as those women and sent instant messages to their friends, coaxing them into removing their clothing so that he could view and take pictures of them, according to the indictment.
When those victims found out that someone had impersonated as their friend, Kazaryan used the “fraudulently obtained” photos to “again coerce the victims to remove their clothing on camera,” according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Federal agents said Kazaryan repeatedly contacted his victims and demanded that they expose their breasts to him on Skype. Kazaryan also allegedly posted nude photos of some victims on their Facebook pages when they failed to comply with his demands.
In all, authorities recovered about 3,000 pictures of nude or semi-nude women including those allegedly taken by Kazaryan. Investigators estimate that Kazaryan victimized more than 350 women, but have not yet identified all of the women whose accounts were hacked.
His alleged blackmail process was shockingly simple, but incredibly effective:
Step 1 – Hack into a woman’s Facebook, Skype and email accounts.
Step 2 – Change the passwords and lock the victim out of their own accounts. Search emails or other files for naked or semi-naked photos of the victim.
Step 3 – Pose as a friend or lover using personal details from their Facebook profile to persuade them to strip while he watched them on Skype, then capture more images of them.
Step 4 – Blackmail them with the nude photos he had obtained during the Skype chats and force them to send him more nude photos as payment for his silence.
Kazaryan was arrested in 2008 for rape, but the case was dropped for lack of evidence. He now faces up to 105 years in prison if he’s convicted on all counts related to his “se’xtortion” scam.
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