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Man in 'sextortion' case might have coerced 350 women

Authorities call 'sextortion' a variant of 'sexting' in which someone assumes a false Internet identity and coerces others into providing sexually explicit content. Two cases point to the trend.

By Staff writer / January 29, 2013



Federal agents on Tuesday took aim at a new type of scam called “sextortion,” arresting a Glendale, Calif., 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.

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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, Mr. Kazaryan would change the password and then pose as the female owner of the account, according to the indictment.

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.

The indictment says Kazaryan used naked or semi-naked images of victims to force them and other victims to remove their clothing again and again.

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, according to court documents.

Some of the explicit photos were discovered in his victim’s accounts and others had allegedly been taken by Kazaryan via Skype.

The indictment charges 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of identity theft. If convicted, Kazaryan faces up to 105 years in prison.

Last week, a Montgomery, Ala., 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 country, including a 14-year-old girl and 15-year-old girl, both in Louisiana.

He was charged with producing child pornography and engaging in interstate extortion.

Christopher Patrick Gunn used computers, chat rooms, and other social media to befriend and then eventually coerce teenaged girls into sending him explicit photos of themselves via the Internet.

Investigators identified various ruses used by Mr. Gunn. In one he would pose as the new kid in town. He’d send messages over Facebook and engage young girls in web-based conversations.

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