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'Sextortion' run amok

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A California man on Thursday admitted breaking into the Facebook and email accounts of hundreds of women and stealing nude and semi-nude pictures of them.

George Samuel Bronk, 23, of Citrus Heights, pleaded guilty to seven felony charges, including computer intrusion, false impersonation and possession of child pornography. He faces a maximum six years in prison and will have to register as a sex offender.

When Bronk's home was raided in September, investigators found more than 170 explicit photographs of women stored on his hard drive. The women resided in California and 16 other states as well as the UK.

Bronk acquired the pictures by trawling Facebook for women who included their email addresses and personal information, such as their favorite food, their high school or mother's maiden name. He then used those details to reset the passwords for their email accounts. Once in, he searched the victims' sent folders for nude or semi nude pictures.

In some cases, he sent the pictures to everyone in the victim's address book. In other cases, he threatened to make the pictures public unless the women sent even more explicit images. He told one woman he did it "because it was funny."

The investigation began after one victim notified Connecticut State Police that her account had been breached. The agency then contacted the California Highway Patrol after discovering the perp was likely located there.

Investigators are having a hard time identifying the majority of the victims. In some cases, the investigators were able to rely on locating tags embedded in the photos. Police have emailed 3,200 questionnaires to potential victims, but so far only 46 women have come forward.

A press release from the California Attorney General's office is here. ®

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