Man Charged with Social Media "Sextortion"

While it’s obviously sensible to avoid sending naked pictures to people you don’t know on the Internet, the only way to be really safe may be to avoid taking naked pictures of yourself at all, period, full stop.

This advice, which will probably come as a disappointment to some readers, isn’t born of a puritanical streak (that’s one thing I’ve never been accused of). Rather, it reflects the current state of privacy and personal security on the Internet: basically non-existent. That’s the conclusion I draw from the story of Karen “Gary” Kazaryan, 27, of Glendale, CA, who was arrested by the FBI after carrying out a complicated strategy to force women to show him their naked bodies.

According to federal prosecutors, Kazaryan hacked into the social media and email accounts of over 350 women and searched them for nude pictures the women took of themselves and sent to other users; in some cases he posed as a friend and convinced the women to send him nude pictures. Then he blocked the women’s access to their own accounts by changing the passwords, and proceeded to blackmail the women by threatening to post the pictures publicly on their Facebook profiles if they didn’t expose themselves to him (again).  Altogether investigators found about 3,000 pictures of women in various states of undress on Kazaryan’s computer.

Of course if you were a rational person, instead of a twisted perv, it might occur to you that there is already a more or less infinite supply of pictures of naked women on the Internet, and that this would probably be a much easier, safer source of titillation than victimizing random strangers; obviously Kazaryan was deriving pleasure from the psychological violence involved in humiliating hapless victims. Now he is being charged with 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of aggravated identity theft, which could carry a sentence of up to 105 years in federal prison. But I’m sure it was totally worth it.

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