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The Cybercrime of Sextortion
September 8, 2011 8:22 PM   Subscribe

Sextortion /sekˈstɔː(r)ʃ(ə)n/ noun The extortion and/or blackmail of an individual, wherein the item or service requested/demanded is the performance of a sexual act.

He seeded P2P networks with popular-sounding song titles that were actually malware; when someone downloaded and executed the file, their machine was infected and would open itself to his control. He took over 129 different computers for a total of 230 victims. Forty-four of the victims were juveniles. How an omniscient Internet "sextortionist" ruined the lives of teen girls. [Sextortionism, previously discussed on Mefi (working link to Sextortion at Eisenhower High article and an update).]
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear (35 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Man, what a crazy ass story. Six years doesn't seem like nearly enough prison time for a guy scamming credit cards, extorting women, and then publishing their nude photos to Myspace anyway.

Also, why is he not deported upon release from prison if his citizenship is illegal in the US?
posted by mathowie at 8:39 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not to mention the whole, you know, underage porn thing.

From my knowledge of the US immigration priorities, it's actually not that easy to get felons, even violent ones, deported. Bizarre, but my hometown court/prison system would be clogged with convicted murderers, rapists, arsonists, all foreign nationals here illegally who were not a deportation priority when compared to peaceable factory workers.

That was more Bush-era, I understand that Obama recently changed the priority to make guys like this at the top of the list.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:50 PM on September 8, 2011


US makes criminals priority for deportation
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:56 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


In the case of his most spectacular hacks, Mijangos could watch the instant messaging and e-mail communications of both a boyfriend and girlfriend, and could even listen in to conversations made over the phone or in person with police by using the computer's built-in microphone. The omniscient effect this created tended to terrify victims; one said later that she felt like her life had been taken from her.

Yes, six years definitely seems lenient.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:08 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


mathowie: "Also, why is he not deported upon release from prison if his citizenship is illegal in the US?"

The Department of Justice, through the Executive Office for Immigration Review, is the primary agency that can order an alien deported for violation US immigration laws. The Department of Homeland Security (which now houses USCIS) has law enforcement authority to arrest alleged violators, but DoJ retains the immigration courts that can issue such an order. What usually happens is that a felony suspect or convict is identified to USCIS/DHS and charges for the immigration are subsequently prosecuted. There's no guarantee that those steps happen, particularly because of the massive backlog in deportation cases. As E. Manitoba pointed out, DHS has adjusted its priorities of late. Plus, this guy is no way in the clear because he has just under 6 years of sitting right where DHS can find him and initiate removal proceedings.
posted by fireoyster at 9:08 PM on September 8, 2011


"Sextortion". What a great word. Kind of like "stagflation".

Sad story, truly. Not gonna read it, cuz it'll make me sad too. But still: "sextortion".
posted by LordSludge at 9:13 PM on September 8, 2011


Sad story, truly. Not gonna read it, cuz it'll make me sad too. But still: "sextortion".

Its a horrible word. Just ugly and clumsy, and I'm not sure we need it to describe a horrible old practice. There was something on the Worst of Reddit where a guy bragged about doing this through getting girls dependent on him through helping with schoolwork....
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:14 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This feels way too much like a movie plot.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:16 PM on September 8, 2011


He's paralyzed from the waist down, this is a crazy-ass story
posted by Homeskillet Freshy Fresh at 9:32 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Six years does not sound like enough? It's a long time in a prison. The story was a crazy-ass. There are many kind of people out there ;)
posted by NIXMY at 9:43 PM on September 8, 2011


I got all excited by the word "sextortion". I thought is was a combination of "sex" and "contortion". I imagined exceedingly limber nubile bodies performing sexual acts with incredibly lithe flexible bodies. On second thought, I still imagine exceedingly limber nubile bodies performing sexual acts with incredibly lithe flexible bodies. Then again, I wouldn't mind if there were exceedingly limber nubile bodies performing sexual acts with incredibly lithe flexible bodies.

I give up. It's exceedingly limber nubile bodies performing sexual acts with incredibly lithe flexible bodies all the way down.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:48 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Sextortion"? No.

There is something very ugly about needing a cute, flippant neologism to, how you say, "add interest" to this story. Yuck.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 10:59 PM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Instead of “sextorting" his victims, Mijangos said he "hacked into female victim accounts at the request of boyfriends and husbands to determine whether the female victims were cheating on their boyfriends or husbands,” according to an FBI account.

Women. Amirite boys?

(Glad the FBI saw through this one.)
posted by salvia at 11:04 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


What mathowie said.
posted by bz at 11:19 PM on September 8, 2011


"Sextortion"? No.

Seconded. This is blackmail. Blackmail's always been about threatening people with compromising photographs. The only thing new here is the means of invading privacy, although threatening children like this is a surprising new low.

This guy is a good argument for serving sentences consecutively.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:24 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Soon enough there will be technology that will create opportunities to do the same things like take over the PC, read emails, listen to calls and watch every movement but without any plausible evidence of this activity. Only the harassment and the lulz will remain.
And wait till the really super smart location aware smartphones come to market.
posted by infini at 12:23 AM on September 9, 2011


If someone hacks your phone and blackmails you via obscene SMS messages, it would be called "sext-tortion"
posted by Phssthpok at 1:54 AM on September 9, 2011


Soon enough there will be technology that will create opportunities to do the same things like take over the PC, read emails, listen to calls and watch every movement but without any plausible evidence of this activity.

"Soon enough"? I'm afraid that chicken flew the coop a long time ago...
posted by Skeptic at 3:18 AM on September 9, 2011


From the article, it sounds like most of the compromises occurred in the Glendale area, but his attacks weren't really targeted. Is this due to the nature of P2P software? Was the software just returning the file name with the shortest number of hops, or on the same ISP, first?
posted by KGMoney at 3:25 AM on September 9, 2011


Also... his list of charges state "Without authorization and in excess of authorization". Is that a legal method for charging someone twice with the same statute?
posted by KGMoney at 3:30 AM on September 9, 2011


If this were a movie starring Sandra Bullock, everyone would be denouncing it as being far too implausible and stupid plot-wise.

That it's actually a real story... is just so peculiar. My brain wants to both accept it and be appalled, and reject it entirely.

What a strange way to start my day. Thanks for posting?
posted by hippybear at 3:47 AM on September 9, 2011


"Sextortion"? No.

There is something very ugly about needing a cute, flippant neologism to, how you say, "add interest" to this story. Yuck.


The actual article implies that the word "sextortion" is not something which Ars Technica made up simply for this piece. In fact, it's defined as blackmail where the demand of payment is not money but some kind of sexual act. In this case, apparently the demand for web sex in exchange for keeping the pirated photos private seems to be what turns this into sextortion.

(Not saying it's kind of a stupid word, but it isn't something which was made up to "add interest".)
posted by hippybear at 4:32 AM on September 9, 2011


Citing a few more recent examples, an August Associated Press story claimed that sextortion is on the rise in the US, and the government has taken to using the term in its criminal filings.

Reading is fun.
posted by spitbull at 4:42 AM on September 9, 2011


Well, I'm off to put a piece of black electrical tape over all my laptop's webcams.
posted by 445supermag at 7:01 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Six years isn't a lot of time in prison when these young girls have fathers.
posted by fuq at 7:14 AM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I chimed in on the comment thread on Ars... was making me rather infuriated. Someone ended up saying things better than I could, so I walked away. I figured that Metafilter would handle this subject better.
posted by utsutsu at 7:15 AM on September 9, 2011


Yes, six years definitely seems lenient.

One possibility is that the plea deal involved him cooperating with the FBI to give them information about the criminal hacking groups he was involved with. Sadly I think that a group that steals huge amounts of money from banks via credit card fraud would probably be a higher priority target than a guy who blackmails random women into sending him nude photos.

I'm actually kind of surprised that this sort of thing doesn't happen more often. There are a huge number of compromised machines out there but almost all of them are used for things like sending spam or doing DDOS attacks. People who write malware are definitely not very ethical, but relatively few of them actually use it to do serious harm to individual victims.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:19 AM on September 9, 2011




Its a horrible word. Just ugly and clumsy, and I'm not sure we need it to describe a horrible old practice. There was something on the Worst of Reddit where a guy bragged about doing this through getting girls dependent on him through helping with schoolwork....
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:14 PM on September 8 [+] [!]


It's a too cutesy. Like emphasizing the fun in fundamentalist.
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:35 AM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I chimed in on the comment thread on Ars...

Oh JFC why the fuck did I click on that... ugh.
posted by kmz at 8:23 AM on September 9, 2011


Well, I'm off to put a piece of black electrical tape over all my laptop's webcams.

I'm putting it over my eyes, so when the compromising pics eventually appear, they'll look like pictures in which the identity of the pervert has been concealed by the publisher.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:47 AM on September 9, 2011


Maybe we should just all preemptively publicly post naked pictures of ourselves on the internet as a precaution.

Seriously, though, this is why I have never, ever, ever allowed anyone I was in a relationship with to take naked pictures of me, ever. Sorry guys. Use your imagination. I don't honestly care whether the world sees me naked, but I know some other people will care if lots of other people see me naked, and might treat me differently as a result.

It's also why I put a shirt on before I open up my laptop. And also don't download files from places I'm not familiar with. I knew it was possible to take over other people's computers over the internet, like 15 years ago when my friends in high school were doing it to each other for kicks.

I really worry about this with my kid, though. His whole generation is going to have serious problems with this. I think the only long-term solution is going to be to just collectively decide as a society not to hold it against people if naked pictures of them show up somewhere.
posted by BlueJae at 9:30 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, why is he not deported upon release from prison if his citizenship is illegal in the US?

I'd be shocked if he weren't. The federal judge doesn't have the power to order it, but immigration will take care of it. Immigration will put a "detainer" on him, once they locate him in federal custody, and, once he completes his federal prison term, he'll be sent to immigration custody and put through immigration proceedings and deported. The extortion conviction probably keeps him from ever legally reentering the U.S. And, if he does reenter illegally, he's violated the terms of his supervised release so he'll get revoked on the extortion charges and face a new illegal reentry charge.
posted by *s at 12:49 PM on September 9, 2011


Seriously, though, this is why I have never, ever, ever allowed anyone I was in a relationship with to take naked pictures of me, ever.

This is why I insist that all my naked pictures make me look really, really good. I'm like "hells yes, send those to anyone you want, the lighting is amazing".

Crappy webcam photos will not do.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:00 PM on September 9, 2011


It would be neat to create malware that catches degenerates like these. If I had those skills, that is.
posted by luckynerd at 5:43 PM on September 9, 2011


Soon enough there will be technology that will create opportunities to do the same things like take over the PC, read emails, listen to calls and watch every movement but without any plausible evidence of this activity.

"Soon enough"? I'm afraid that chicken flew the coop a long time ago...


I should have added 'including the text based threats and harassment' - right now it needs email or an IM account of some sort afaik
posted by infini at 6:42 AM on September 10, 2011


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