There are lots of online activities that should be avoided at work. Extorting women for sexy photographs is definitely on that list.
A former State Department employee has pleaded guilty to extortion and hacking. Michael C. Ford had been charged with hacking into hundreds of women's e-mail inboxes, stealing sexually explicit images from them, stalking them online and then using those images to extort them for more nude photographs — all while logged into his official U.S. government computer at work.
Ford, a Georgia resident who was at the time employed by the U.S. Embassy in London, used e-mail passwords he obtained by phishing to hack into e-mail and social media accounts, then threatened at least 75 victims that he would release their photos and other personal information if they didn't agree to his demands. Between January 2013 and May 2015, he used aliases such as “David Anderson” and “John Parsons” to pose as a member of a fictitious “account deletion team” at Google and target women, focusing in particular on girls in college sororities and aspiring models.
This is on of the unfortunate examples of your tax dollars at work. In an email to one victim, Ford wrote: "I want you to video girls in the changing room (of her gym). If you don't, I send your details and pictures to everyone."
In another he referred to himself as a talent scout and e-mailed one of victims saying "finally, I found you! What do you think? Nice a**." When she asked where he got the pictures he replied, "I'm a wizard, I have lots. Did you like it?" He then said he could send it to her friends, including on the e-mail a list of people she knew.
He threatened another woman with posting her photographs to an escort website, along with her phone number and home address. “I like your red fire escape ladder," he threatened her. "Easy to climb.” On several occasions he followed through with threats, sending his victims’ images to family members and friends.
“Ford engaged in an international sextortion campaign,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn in a statement. “This case demonstrates the need to be careful in safeguarding personal information and passwords, especially in response to suspicious e-mails.”
After an investigation by the FBI and State Department, Ford was arrested on May 17. After pleading guilty on Wednesday to nine counts of cyberstalking, seven counts of computer hacking to extort and one count of wire fraud, he is scheduled for sentencing on February 16. The cyberstalking and hacking counts each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while the wire fraud count could land him up to 20 years. Each of the 17 counts is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000.
Recently, courts have gone a lot harder on men charged with cyberstalking women and distributing their non-consensual nudes — just last week, revenge porn king Hunter Moore was sentenced to two years in prison for identity theft and computer hacking following an FBI investigation. It's been a long time coming, but it seems that the law is finally catching up to the realization that, for women, the internet can sometimes be an awfully unwelcoming place.