Wed, Mar 23, 2016 - Page 7 News List

Ex-US embassy worker imprisoned over ‘sextortion’

CYBERSTALKING:Michael Ford was given four years and nine months in jail for hacking into hundreds of women’s accounts, then demanding nude videos

Reuters

A former US Department of State employee was sentenced on Monday to four years and nine months in prison after pleading guilty to charges he sent threatening e-mails to sexually extort dozens of young women, mainly from his computer at the US embassy in London.

Michael Ford, 36, of Atlanta, Georgia, had pleaded guilty on Dec. 9 last year to nine counts of cyberstalking, seven counts of computer hacking to extort and one count of wire fraud for what federal prosecutors called an “international sextortion campaign.”

US District Judge Eleanor Ross in Atlanta, who imposed the sentence, also ordered Ford to serve three years of supervised release after his prison term ends.

The sentence was confirmed by a spokesman for US Attorney John Horn in Atlanta.

Federal prosecutors said Ford hacked into the accounts of hundreds of young women, and threatened to release thousands of sexually explicit photographs he stole unless his victims agreed to his demands.

These demands included that they send him videos of other women undressing in changing rooms at pools, gyms and clothing stores.

They said Ford’s scheme ran from January 2013 to May last year, and targeted members of college sororities and aspiring models.

Prosecutors had sought an eight-year prison term, while defense lawyers sought a four-year term.

The sentence “recognizes the seriousness of Mr Ford’s conduct, while at the same time acknowledging that he fully accepted responsibility for his actions and assisted the government in every way possible throughout his case,” Ford’s lawyer Benjamin Black Alper said.

“Mr Ford deeply regrets his actions and looks forward to completing his sentence and returning to his family,” he added.

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