Former State Department Employee Indicted in 'Sextortion' Scheme He Allegedly Carried Out for More than 2 Years
Michael C. Ford has been charged in an alleged hacking and cyberstalking scheme
A former U.S. State Department employee was indicted Tuesday for allegedly illegally obtaining sexually explicit images of many women, then threatening to share them on social media unless they provided him with more.
Michael C. Ford, a married father of one, used government computers at the U.S. Embassy in London “as a base for his cyberstalking campaign,” U.S. Attorney John Horn said in a U.S. Department of Justice press release.
“[Ford] tormented women across the country, by threatening to humiliate them unless they provided him with sexually explicit photos and videos,” Horn said.
Ford was arrested in May as he attempted to return to London after visiting his parents in Alpharetta, Georgia, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
On Tuesday, he was indicted on nine counts of cyberstalking, seven counts of computer hacking to extort, and one count of wire fraud in a scheme allegedly carried out for more than two years.
According to Horn, Ford allegedly used aliases including “John Parsons” and “David Anderson” to pose as a member of the fictitious “account deletion team” for a well-known service provider. He allegedly sent emails to thousands of potential victims, including members of college sororities, warning them that their accounts would be deleted if they did not provide their password information.
Ford then allegedly used the information to steal sexually explicit images from email and social media accounts. Once obtained, Ford contacted the victims and threatened to share the photos unless he received additional photos and videos showing “sexy girls” undressing in changing rooms of pools, gyms and clothing stores, the press release states.
According to the indictment, Ford issued additional threats when victims begged him to leave them alone. In some cases he even carried out his threats, allegedly sending sexually explicit images to family members and friends of the victims.
The investigation included members of the FBI, the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security and the U.S. Justice Department.
“As these allegations highlight, predators use the Internet to target innocent victims,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a statement. “With the help of victims and our law enforcement partners, we will find those predators and hold them accountable.”
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