Federal agents are taking aim at a new type of scam called “sextortion,” arresting a Glendale, Ca., man on charges that he hacked into e-mail and Facebook accounts of young women and then posed as a woman to convince others to send him nude photos of themselves, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Karen “Gary” Kazaryan was named in a 30-count indictment charging him with gaining unauthorized access to e-mail, Facebook, and Skype accounts belonging to more than 100 women from 2009 to 2011.
Once he’d hacked into an account, Kazaryan would change the password and then allegedly pose as the female owner of the account. He would contact the account holder’s female friends and attempt to persuade or extort them into removing their clothing so he could photograph them via their webcams. The “sextortion” scam is a variation of the practice of “sexting,” sending nude images of one’s self over the Internet to others. Investigators suspect he may have victimized more than 350 women. They found more than 3,000 photos of nude or semi-nude women on Kazaryan’s computer. Last week, a Montgomery, Al., man was sentenced to 35 years in prison after admitting that he carried out a “sextortion” scheme from 2009 to 2011 against young girls across the U.S.