News & Politics

American Consular Employee in London Pleads Guilty to 'Sextortion' Hacking Scheme

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Americans at their cushy London post in Grosvenor Square obviously have too much time on their hands:

A former U.S. State Department worker has pleaded guilty to what the Department of Justice says was “a widespread, international e-mail phishing, computer hacking and cyberstalking scheme.” Michael C. Ford, 36, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conducting a plot in which he used a variety of aliases, as well as Internet hacking, to force people to send him personal information and sexually explicit videos of other people.

To conduct his scheme, authorities say, Ford pretended he was from a well-known e-mail service provider and sent phishing emails to thousands of people telling them that their account would be deleted if they didn’t provide their passwords. Then, Ford hacked their email and social media accounts and would find sexual photos. Ford then looked for other identification information about the individuals, like where they worked, lived, and names of family members.

Then, Ford would email the victims the photos he stole from them and demand that they take explicit videos of women undressing in stores or at the pool and send them to him. He told them if they didn’t comply, he would release their photos. If the victims would not follow his demands or said they would contact law enforcement, he would say things things like, “I like your red fire escape ladder, easy to climb,” or “don’t worry, it’s not like I know where you live.”

Ford also completed his threats by sending explicit photos of his victims to their friends and family. The Department of Justice says he targeted young women. Many of the victims were students at U.S. colleges. He focused on sorority members and aspiring models.At the time of his scheme, Ford was an employee of the U.S. Embassy in London and many of his activities were done from his computer at the U.S. Embassy.

And journalists wonder why the American people are losing their faith in the honesty and integrity of their government at all levels, from the White House on down. Here’s the report from the State Department:

Ford pleaded guilty to all charges and admitted that between January 2013 and May 2015, he used various aliases that included “David Anderson” and “John Parsons” and engaged in a widespread, international computer hacking, cyberstalking and “sextortion” campaign designed to force victims to provide Ford with personal information as well as sexually explicit videos of others.  Ford targeted young females, some of whom were students at U.S. colleges and universities, with a particular focus on members of sororities and aspiring models.

During the relevant time period, Ford was employed by the U.S. Embassy in London.  The majority of Ford’s phishing, hacking and cyberstalking activities were conducted from his computer at the U.S. Embassy.

“With nothing more than a computer and a few keystrokes, modern predators like Michael Ford can victimize hundreds of people around the world,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “While this criminal prosecution may never return the victims’ sense of security, I hope that today’s guilty plea brings them some peace of mind.”

Gee, who’s been secretary of state under Obama since Feb. 2013, again?