• Man accused of hacking into college women's accounts, 'sextorting'


    ATLANTA - A U.S. Department of State employee was arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and is accused of hacking into college-age women’s accounts and stealing compromising photographs for blackmail.
    Federal investigators say he used government computers at the U.S. Embassy in London to commit the crime.
    Investigators say Michael C. Ford is a U.S. citizen who has worked as an embassy employee in London since 2009. 
    He is originally from the Atlanta metro area and still maintains a residence in Alpharetta, according to his attorney.
    Department of State Diplomatic Security Service specialists found a list of 250 email addresses on his computer, according to a criminal affidavit.
    Many of the addresses are potential students from universities across the country, including Ball State University and the University of Michigan, according to investigators.
    “This leads me to believe that Ford may be targeting college-aged women throughout the U.S.,” said Eric Kasik, a special agent with the DSS, in a criminal complaint. 
    Investigators believe Ford engaged in computer hacking, cyberstalking and extortion.
    In one case, investigators say Ford wrote a victim, “I want you to record videos of sexy girls changing. In gyms, clothes stores, pools… You do that, and I disappear.”
    “I believe that, once he obtains the sexually explicit photographs, he uses them as leverage to try to force the victims to cede to his various demands,” the investigator wrote.
    Experts call this “sextortion,” and say it is a rising crime.
    “I wish I could say I was shocked and horrified, never heard of a crime like this, but it is not rare,” said Pete Wellborn, a cyberexpert and attorney.
    Ford will be in federal court in Atlanta Thursday for a bond hearing. His attorneys declined to comment at this point in the case.

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