Downtown Los Angeles ‘SIM Swapper’ Pleads Guilty to Hacking into Instagram Users’ Accounts to Fraudulently Obtain Money
LOS ANGELES – A Covina man pleaded guilty today to federal cyberstalking charges for his multiyear internet harassment campaign against two teenage girls who rejected his sexual advances.
Carl De Vera Bennington, 34, pleaded guilty via videoconference to two counts of cyberstalking.
According to his plea agreement, Bennington repeatedly sent one victim unsolicited online messages over a period of several years. When she blocked him from contacting her from one of her online accounts, Bennington created new online accounts and then continued sending her messages, including graphic messages between June and November 2019 in which he insulted the victim, demanded she engage in sex acts with him, and threatened to sexually assault her. When the victim demanded that Bennington stop harassing her, he threatened to kill her and her family.
Bennington also admitted to harassing another victim, who deactivated her social media accounts in 2017 after he solicited her to engage in a sexual relationship with him. In August 2019, after she reactivated her social media accounts, Bennington sent her numerous online messages threatening to kill her unless she responded to his demands for sex acts.
Neither victim ever met Bennington in person, according to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint in this case. According to the complaint, Bennington frequently promoted incel (involuntarily celibate) ideology, which involves individuals who are unable to find a willing sex partner and promotes the view that women oppress men and have too much freedom to choose their own sexual partners. The ideology ranges in tone from expressing sadness and self-loathing to advocating the “absolute hatred” of women, according to court documents.
United States District Judge Dolly M. Gee has scheduled an April 14, 2021 sentencing hearing, at which time Bennington will face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney David T. Ryan of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section is prosecuting this case.
Public Information Officer
United States Attorney’s Office
Central District of California (Los Angeles)