Revenge of the Nerds
It’s a classic Hollywood plot point. A homely loser fantasizes about a sexy woman well beyond his reach and goes to desperate lengths to satisfy his pent-up desires. But in the case of 19-year-old Jared James Abraham, the reality was a bit more sinister.
Abraham turned himself in to FBI authorities last week after he admitted to hijacking the webcams of multiple young women so he could get pictures of the ladies in various states of undress. The teen voyeur then blackmailed them for more photos, a classic case of “sextortion.” Abraham’s most high-profile victim was Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf, a Barbie-esque beauty queen who was once his high school classmate in Orange County, California. Though we cannot confirm, she may have denied him a date to the prom.
Wolf, also 19, first contacted authorities in March after she received an anonymous email from someone claiming to have a gallery of nude photos taken from her webcam without her knowledge. Abraham reportedly demanded that Wolf indulge him with a Skype strip session—or risk having her photos splashed across the Internet. “Either you do one of the things listed below or I upload these pics and a lot more (I have a LOT more and those are better quality) on all your accounts for everybody to see,” he wrote in an email. “Your dream of being a model will be transformed into a porn star.”
According to his lawyer, the ruddy-faced computer science major is reportedly autistic. He is also quite threatening in a whiny, little brother sort of way. In one exchange with another victim, he claimed, “I’ll tell you this right now! I do NOT have a heart!!!,” although he did use the screen name CuteFuzzyPuppy.
Following a $50,000 bond deal, he will be confined to his parents home. His hacking tools have also been castrated, apart from his parent’s heavily monitored desktop, which he can use for schoolwork. And though he likely faces a dreadfully boring, tech-free future, he does have the honor of joining a long line of computer-savvy outcasts desperate for celebrity nudie shots, power and a dose of attention.
The Florida man behind what was dubbed “Operation Hackerazzi” is currently serving 10 years in prison after being arrested in 2011 for hacking the email accounts of some buxom celebrities—most famously that of Scarlet Johansson. Christopher Chaney, who was 35 at the time, still lived with his mom (again, unconfirmed, but we bet he ran his perverted enterprise out of his basement bedroom while eating Cheetos). Chaney’s exploits first drew attention when he fulfilled every straight man’s wildest dreams by posting topless photos of Johansson online. Christina Aguilera, Mila Kunis and Renee Olstead joined Johansson among Chaney’s more than 50 entertainment industry victims, some listed by only their initials in the indictment. Chaney claims that his pornographic hacking tendencies started just as a curiosity, but soon spiraled into a full-fledged addiction. “It just happened and snowballed,” he said. “I didn’t know how to stop doing it.”
The most cavalier of the bunch, Josh Holly began hacking celebrity Internet accounts in 2005 when he was only 16, but hit the holy grail when he infiltrated the Gmail account of then-15-year-old Miley Cyrus. Using what was the Disney star’s address (email@example.com), Holly found a series of seductive images of the Hannah Montana actress: Miley in a wet T-shirt in the shower, Miley blowing kisses with a bare midriff, Miley attempting a seductive look in a bathing suit. The photos were originally intended for her then-boyfriend, Nick Jonas. And Holly wasn’t shy about his efforts. He often called radio shows and gave interviews with bloggers, bragging about his exploits and proclaiming that he could never be found. The FBI eventually tracked him down in his hometown of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and raided his home, seizing his electronics. Still, Holly didn’t take the hint: “I’m having these strong urges to start playing around and hacking shit again,” he wrote some months later on Facebook. “There’s so much new stuff on the net. I can’t stop these urges. Am I a bad person?”
One judge ruled that yes, Holly was kind of bad. In 2011, he was finally sentenced to three years probation, after pleading guilty to possessing close to 200 stolen credit card numbers and to hacking celebrity MySpace pages in a spamming scheme. Tech whiz though he may be, his attorney argued that such a sentence was a “sufficiently onerous punishment for a first-time offender of immature mental age,” and that he should be spared prison because of his puny 5-foot-6-inch frame.
The 21-year-old Brit worked at McDonald’s, but had another hobby in his spare time: stalking the social networks of Selena Gomez using the franchise’s Wi-Fi. While posing as Gomez’s stepfather, Gareth Crosskey placed a call to Facebook headquarters, convincing them to change the password to her account. The West Sussex resident reportedly read salacious, private messages between her and then-boyfriend Justin Bieber, which he offered to sell to OK! and Hollywood Life magazines. He then committed the ultimate sacrilege of Bieberdom by posting negative messages about the pop star from Gomez’s profile. Though none of the private messages between the couple were leaked, Gomez’s team reportedly spent three days trying to regain control of her Facebook account. Crosskey was jailed in January 2011 for 12 months after confessing to the crime. Ironically, the lewdest aspect of this affair is a statement the judge made during after Crosskey was convicted: “You are clever with a computer and you hacked into the private part of somebody’s Facebook account…”
Christopher Davis Long
A used car salesman, Christopher Davis Long may have held the hallmark career of rundown middle-aged man, but his dexterous hacking skills were enough to leave pop star Carly Rae Jepsen in tears. The 25-year-old British Columbia resident hacked Jepsen’s personal email and stole “sensitive, highly personal” (nude) photos that he later attempted to sell to TMZ through the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. He also used her email password to hack into her Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. (Do celebrities take any precautions?!) At one point he posted a pornographic image to her Instagram account alongside a vulgar epithet against Bieber. Long also threatened Jepsen’s boyfriend for trying to interfere with his operations, saying, “Stop trying to take the accounts back. I am extremely capable of doing many things.” Indeed, the high school dropout even hacked Jepsen’s phone, effectively hindering anyone from calling her, maybe. Long was eventually sentenced to four months of prison and a year of probation earlier this month, though he maintains he is nothing more than a merry prankster.