A 19-year-old Southern California computer student is facing federal prison for hacking the webcams of Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf and a dozen other young women worldwide and trying to blackmail them by going public with naked photos he secretly took.
Jared James Abrahams of Temecula pleaded guilty Tuesday to four counts of extortion and one count of unauthorized access of a computer. His plea agreement calls for 27 to 33 months in federal prison when he's sentenced in March, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.
Court records show the victims ranged from their late teens to early 20s, including some minors, and were located in Southern California, Maryland, Ireland, Canada, Russia and Moldova. The plot lasted from early 2012 until June 2013.
Abrahams threatened to post the illegally obtained photos if his targets did not send him more nude images or strip for him on camera. At least two complied with his demands.
"I hacked several girls' computers and, using their webcams, took photos of them when they weren't aware," Abrahams said in court, admitting that he was aware that he was extorting them.
Abrahams knew some of his victims, including Wolf, a high school classmate. She exposed the "sextortion" plot after being alerted about a failed attempt to change her Facebook password. Wolf, who was crowned in August, then received an e-mail containing nude photos of her that were taken by the camera on her laptop.
"Here's what's going to happen!" the e-mailer, later identified as Abrahams, wrote to Wolf, the federal complaint states. "Either you do one of the things listed below or I upload these pics and a lot more … on all your accounts for everybody to see and your dream of being a model will be transformed into a pornstar."
The FBI raided Abrahams' home in June and arrested him in September.
Outside court, his attorney noted that Abrahams is autistic but said that was no excuse for the crimes.
"There is no good reason for his activities. These were intrusions with real victims," said his attorney, Alan Eisner, the Los Angeles Times reported. "The fact of the matter is he has autism, he is socially disconnected. We are not looking to blame his conduct on that."
Wolf later tweeted, "Happy to know that this nightmare is coming to an end."