It started as Facebook alert letting Cassidy Wolf, 19, know that someone had tried to change her password. Next, she logged on to her Twitter account to find her avatar had been changed to a half-naked photo of herself — one she had never seen before. Then came message after message from someone threatening to post multiple nude photos of Wolf if she didn't comply with the blackmailer's demands to do what she was told during a Skype video chat — all the while, Wolf was moving up the pageant ranks to national recognition as Miss Teen USA.
The person police say was behind the "sextortion" of Wolf and at least eight other young women is 19-year-old Jared James Abrahams, a computer science college student from Temecula, California, a former classmate of Wolf. Abrahams is accused of hacking into the webcams of his victims and capturing nude images of them as they undressed. Police said he would then threaten to post the more than 1,000 images he had online if the young women didn't agree to send nude photos, a nude video or do whatever he asked during a five-minute Skype session.
"Either you do one of the things listed below or I upload these pics and a lot more (I have a LOT more and those are better quality) on all your accounts for everybody to see and your dream of being a model will be transformed into a pornstar (sic)," he wrote to Wolf, according to the criminal complaint.
Abrahams turned himself into the FBI Thursday, six months after he is accused of beginning his extortion attempts on Wolf. According to the complaint, he admitted to using malware to infect his victims computers, allowing him to control their webcams. He also told investigators Wolf was the first person whose computer he hacked whom he knew personally. He told police he had between 30 and 40 "slave computers."
According to investigators, another panicked victim who lives in Ireland wrote to Abrahams in April, "I'm downloading Skype now. Please remember im only 17. Have a heart."
"I'll tell you this right now! I do NOT have a heart!!!" he responded, according to the complaint. "However I do stick to my deals! Also age doesn't mean a thing to me!!"
Abrahams was released on $50,000 bond under intensive pretrial supervision and home detention with electronic monitoring after his initial court appearance Thursday.
Wolf, the current Miss Teen USA, has been vocal about the cyber-stalking case on her Twitter account, sharing updates and retweeting supportive comments from her followers.