New Hampshire Man Charged with Computer Hacking and Cyberstalking in “Sextortion” Scheme Targeting Minors
A New Hampshire man was charged with remotely hacking into the social media, email and online shopping accounts of almost a dozen minor females and threatening that he would delete, deface, and make purchases from the accounts unless the victims sent him sexually explicit photographs of themselves.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Donald Feith of the District of New Hampshire and Special Agent in Charge Lisa A. Quinn of the U.S. Secret Service’s Boston Field Office made the announcement.
“Predators troll the Internet in search of vulnerable children to extort for their own sexual gratification,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “The Criminal Division and our law enforcement partners are committed to protecting our youth from sextortion and to finding and prosecuting wrongdoers lurking in the shadows of the Internet.”
“Individuals who would take advantage of today’s modern technologies to entice and then threaten minors deserve special investigative and prosecutorial attention,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Feith. “We will continue to work with law enforcement, technology specialists and education professionals to teach minors about the dangers of placing personal information in social media and the need to report threats of this nature so that we may bring these predators to justice.”
“Child sexual exploitation is an alarming problem in our society,” said Special Agent in Charge Quinn. “The Secret Service is committed to work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute these predators.”
Ryan J. Vallee, 21, of Franklin, New Hampshire, was charged by indictment with 10 counts of making interstate threats, two counts of computer hacking to steal information, seven counts of computer hacking to extort and seven counts of aggravated identity theft. Vallee is scheduled to make his initial appearance today at 4:30 p.m. EDT in the District of New Hampshire.
According to the indictment, from 2012 through November 2013, Vallee, using various aliases that included “Seth Williams” and “James McRow,” engaged in a computer hacking and “sextortion” campaign designed to coerce numerous minor females to provide him with sexually explicit photographs of themselves. He allegedly hacked into and took control of the girls’ online accounts – including their e-mail, Facebook and Instagram accounts – and threatened to delete the accounts, and defaced the contents of some of the accounts. Vallee also allegedly hacked into the girls’ Amazon.com accounts and, using their stored payment card information and shipping addresses, ordered items of a sexual nature and had them shipped to the girls’ homes. Vallee also allegedly obtained sexually explicit photographs of the girls and their friends and distributed them to others.
The indictment alleges that, in conjunction with his harassment campaign, Vallee sent communications to his victims, usually using a text message spoofing or anonymizing service, threatening to continue his attacks unless the victims provided sexually explicit photographs of themselves. The indictment alleges that, when victims refused to comply with Vallee’s demands and begged him to leave them alone, Vallee responded with threats to inflict additional harm.
The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations. A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, with substantial assistance from the Belmont, New Hampshire, Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Mona Sedky and Trial Attorney Sumon Dantiki of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Arnold H. Huftalen of the District of New Hampshire.