A self-proclaimed member of an international computer gang hacked into females' computers and demanded that they perform sexual acts on video for his pleasure or face identity theft, federal authorities allege. Some of the women did as he requested, officials said.
The suspect, 31-year-old Santa Ana resident Luis Mijangos, was arrested on suspicion of extortion and was expected to appear in federal court on downtown Los Angeles Tuesday afternoon.
According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Mijangos allegedly hacked into the victims' computers, took personal information, including credit card numbers, and then threatened to take over their identities unless they performed sexually explicit moves on video.
One he got the video, he allegedly demanded more, threatening to distribute the images he had if they did not obey. He told some that if they went to authorities, he'd know, and he'd distribute the images, according to authorities. In other cases he allegedly searched computers for explicit photos and video and then extorted victims with the threat of distributing the material.
Sometimes he'd allegedly capture material live via victims' webcams. Sometimes he would pretend to be victims' boyfriends and ask them to pose for a webcam or send him imagery.
In the picture painted by federal officials, the suspect essentially took over aspects of victims' lives via computer.
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"Mijangos infected more than 100 computers that were used by approximately 230 individuals, at least 44 of whom were juveniles," according to the statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office. " ... Mijangos was able to control their computers, allowing him to send instant messages containing malware from those computers to other people in the victims' address books. These later victims thought they were receiving messages from friends or family members."
The victims were apparently lured by free song downloads that contained malware allowing the suspect to control their machines, authorities said. The investigation of the alleged hacker started six months ago after the Glendale Police Department received a complaint.
For his part, Mijangos says he was simply conducting investigations of the women on the behalf of their boyfriends.
"Mr. Mijangos is alleged to have exploited new technology to exert control over young women whom he extorted, and many who were unwitting victims," said an FBIs assistant director in charge, Steven M. Martinez.