On Tuesday, a former United States embassy employee and a resident of Atlanta, Michael C. Ford has been accused of sextortion attempts including hacking and cyber stalking which involves approximately 250 women.
According to the Justice Department, the ex-state department employee apparently stole sexually-explicit videos, pictures, passwords and other personal information of the victims as a part of sextortion scheme for over two years, and majority of those attacks were initiated through a U.S. embassy computer.
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He also used to threaten the victims to share the personal data and pictures with acquaintances if the victim doesn’t provide him with further explicit pictures and videos.
The U.S. attorney John Horn presented nine counts of cyberstalking, seven attempts of computer hacking and one attempt of wire fraud; all of these attempts dated from January 2013 until May 2015 were charged to Michael C. Ford on August 18th.
During the whole sextortion scheme, Ford was a civilian employee at the U.K. based U.S. Embassy and used his government-issued computer systems to conduct the hacking, phishing and cyber stalking activities.
Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said, “According to the indictment, Ford hacked into email accounts and extorted sexually-explicit images from scores of victims.” He further added that “as these allegations highlight, predators use the Internet to target innocent victims. With the help of victims and our law enforcement partners, we will find those predators and hold them accountable.”
To force the victims to provide all the personal details, Ford purportedly posed himself as a member of the fictional ‘account deletion team’ for a famous email service provider and sent warnings to thousands of victims, which included college group members, threatening them that their social accounts would be confiscated if they did not provide passwords for their online accounts.
The 22-paged official declaration of this case has also been released, which further describes the weird pattern of sextortion. His demands were so disturbing that at one point he demanded victim to record sexually explicit videos of other women undressing in the retail store changing rooms.
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Here is an excerpt from the official declaration:
“FORD wrote that he would carry out his threats unless Jane Doe One took, and sent FORD, sexually explicit videos of ‘girls’ and ‘sexy girls’ taking their clothes off in changing rooms at gyms, pools, or clothing stores.”
Using these types of phishing schemes, Ford used to collect passwords of victims and then hack into their email and social media accounts to steal personal information as well as sexually explicit pictures, and stores them on his personal computer to harass the victims.
The official declaration has also stated that if any victim refuses to comply with the Ford’s demands, he responds with additional threats which include the notice using which he reminds the victim that he knows where they lived. And in few cases, Ford sent sexually explicit pictures to the victim’s friends and family members.
Ford was arrested by the federal law enforcement agency after one of the Ford’s fake email address was traced and linked to an IP address of U.S. Department and U.K. Department. Further investigations revealed that the email account was linked to a single terminal of London-based U.S. Embassy.
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