Michael Ford, an employee at the American embassy in London, has pleaded guilty to nine charges of cyberstalking, seven of computer hacking to extort and one of wire fraud. Ford posed as a member of an “account-deletion team” from a well-known email company and sent phishing messages to thousands of potential victims, mainly sorority members and aspiring models, saying their accounts would be closed unless they sent him their passwords. He then accessed their email and social media accounts in search of explicit photos and other personal information, and used that information to demand additional sexually explicit material. When women objected, he threatened them and posted their explicit photos online or sent them to their friends and family. Between January 2013 and May 2015 he hacked into the accounts of at least 200 victims, all while continuing to work at the embassy. The cyber-stalking and hacking charges each carry a maximum of five years in prison, and the wire fraud charge carries up to 20 years in prison. Ford is due to be sentenced this February.
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