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Law enforcement authorities investigating the emails soon realized that the threatening communications were part of a larger series of crimes.

Mijangos, they discovered, had tricked scores of women and teenage girls into downloading malware onto their computers.

The malicious software he employed provided access to all files, photos, and videos on the infected computers.

In at least one case, he posted nude photos of a victim on the Myspace account of a friend of the victim, which Mijangos had also hacked, after she refused to comply with his demands.

To make matters worse, Mijangos also used the computers he controlled to spread his malware further, propagating to the people in his victims’ address books instant messages that appeared to come from friends and thereby inducing new victims to download his malware.

As defined in the Mijangos court documents, sextortion is “a form of extortion and/or blackmail” wherein “the item or service requested/demanded is the performance of a sexual act.” The crime takes a number of different forms, and it gets prosecuted under a number of different statutes.

Sometimes it involves hacking people’s computers to acquire images then used to extort more.

This is the new playground.” But while the FBI has issued numerous warnings about sextortion, the government publishes no data on the subject.

Unlike its close cousin, the form of nonconsensual pornography known as “revenge porn,” the problem of sextortion has not received sustained press attention or action in numerous state legislatures, in part because with few exceptions, sextortion victims have chosen to remain anonymous, as the law in most jurisdictions permits. The 78 cases we reviewed alone involve at least 1,397 victims, and this is undoubtedly just the tip of the iceberg.Later in the day, to underscore his seriousness, the hacker followed up with another email threatening the victim: “You have six hours.” This victim knew her correspondent only as [email protected], but the attacker turned out to be a talented 32-year-old proficient in multiple computer languages.Located in Santa Ana, California, his name was Luis Mijangos.The perpetrator wanted a pornographic video of the victim.And if she did not send it within one day, he threatened to publish the images already in his possession, and “let [her] family know about [her] dark side.” If she contacted law enforcement, he promised he would publish the photos on the Internet too.We tend think of cybersecurity as a problem for governments, major corporations, and—at an individual level—for people with credit card numbers or identities to steal.

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