US State Department sextortionist gets 57 months in cooler

Cyber scum slapped for victimising hundreds of women.

A former US State Department official has been handed 57 months prison for hacking the email accounts of women and forcing them into sending him sexual photographs.

Michael Ford, 36, of Atlanta, was sentenced by US District Judge Eleanor Ross after he pled guilty to nine counts of cyberstalking, seven of hacking to extort, and one count of wire fraud.

Ford pled guilty in December. He admitted that between January 2013 and May last year he committed "widespread, international computer hacking, cyberstalking and sextortion" hacking email accounts to force women to send him personal information and sexually explicit photos and videos.

The attacks were traced by British law enforcement to the US Embassy in London from where he was sending the phishing emails.

Ford had a "particular focus" on young women attending US universities members and aspiring models, and hacked 450 email and social media accounts linked to 200 victims.

The Department of Justice said Ford sent phishing emails posing as a member of a fictitious account deletion team in a bid to compromise victims.

"Using both the photos and PII (personal information), Ford admitted that he then emailed at least 75 victims, threatening to release those photos unless they took and sent him sexually explicit videos of 'sexy girls' undressing in changing rooms at pools, gyms and clothing stores."

On "several occasions" he sent explicit photos of victims to their family members when they threatened to go to police.

From 2009 he targeted aspiring models convincing victims by posing as a scout and asking his targets to send personal information including sexually explicit photographs some including minors.

Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said his nearly five-year sentence is a necessary deterrent. “He preyed on vulnerable victims, leaving them with indelible emotional scars.," Caldwell says. "His sentence is a necessary step in holding him to account for his crimes and helping his victims move forward with their lives.” ®

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