Man charged in 'sextortion' case targeted 350 women, feds say
A Glendale man faces more than two dozen charges in a so-called sextortion case after allegedly hacking into social media and email accounts of 350 women and extorting them into showing their naked pictures.
Karen “Gary” Kazaryan, 27, who was arrested without incident Tuesday by agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is charged in a federal grand jury indictment with 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of aggravated identity theft, the U.S. attorney's office said Tuesday. He faces 105 years in federal prison if convicted on all counts.
The 30-count federal grand jury indictment alleges that the Glendale resident hacked into the victims’ Facebook, Skype and email accounts, and changed the passwords, locking victims out of their own online accounts. He then allegedly searched emails or other files for naked or semi-naked pictures of the women, as well as other information, such as passwords and the names of their friends.
Kazaryan then posed online as those women and sent instant messages to their friends, coaxing them into removing their clothing so that he could view and take pictures of them, according to the indictment.
When those victims found out someone else had posed as their friend, Kazaryan used the "fraudulently obtained" photos to "again coerce the victims to remove their clothing on camera," according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Federal agents said Kazaryan repeatedly contacted his victims and demanded that they expose their breasts to him on Skype. Kazaryan also allegedly posted nude photos of some victims on their Facebook pages when they failed to comply with his demands.
In all, authorities recovered about 3,000 pictures of nude or semi-nude women including those allegedly taken by Kazaryan. Investigators estimate that Kazaryan victimized more than 350 women, but have not yet identified all of the women whose accounts were hacked.
Possible victims or anyone with information about the case is asked to call the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at (310) 477-6565.