FBI Makes Arrest in Sextortion Case Involving Miss Teen USA of Temecula

Jared James Abrahams, 19, of Temecula, surrendered Thursday morning to FBI agents in Orange County in connection with a sextortion case involving Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf of Temecula as well as other victims.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 18: Miss Teen USA California Cassidy Wolf arrives to the Premiere of "Wiener Dog Nationals" at Pacific Theatre at The Grove on June 18, 2013 in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 18: Miss Teen USA California Cassidy Wolf arrives to the Premiere of "Wiener Dog Nationals" at Pacific Theatre at The Grove on June 18, 2013 in Los Angeles, Calif. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

A Temecula man surrendered to FBI agents Thursday morning in connection with a sextortion case involving the reigning Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf, a Great Oak High School graduate, as well as several other victims.

Following a months-long investigation, Jared James Abrahams, 19, of Temecula, turned himself in at FBI offices in Orange County, FBI Spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a news release.

RELATED: A Victim of Cyber Crime, Miss Teen USA of Temecula Vows to Spread Awareness

Abrahams appeared Thursday afternoon in federal court in Santa Ana, where his bail was set at $50,000.

The charge of extortion carries a statutory maximum penalty of two years in federal prison.

The investigation into Abrahams began in March, prior to Wolf, 19, being crowned Miss Teen USA in August.

According to an FBI affidavit filed in support of Abrahams’ arrest, Wolf—identified as C.W. in court papers—spoke with an FBI investigator, stating that her laptop had become compromised when she received a Facebook alert that someone was trying to reset her password.

She subsequently learned that her Twitter, Tumblr and Yahoo! passwords had been reset and that her Twitter profile picture had been changed to a half-nude photo.

About 30 minutes later, she said she received an email on her Yahoo! account containing two nude photos that she recognized as taken in her home. The photos appeared to have been taken via her webcam without her knowledge.

The lengthy FBI investigation revealed that Abrahams allegedly compromised Wolf and other victims’ computers and obtained nude photographs and or videos of the victims via remote connection to their webcams, then contacted the victims using AOL and Outlook email addresses.

Abrahams allegedly threatened to publicly disclose the victims’ nude photos and/or videos on their social media pages unless they did one of three things: sent a nude photo, sent a nude video, or logged onto Skype and did what he told them to do for five minutes.

(Sextortion is described as extortion in which the victim is blackmailed with a nude image of themselves. The person committing the sextortion threatens to release the nude image publicly unless the victim, among other things, performs a sexual act.)

In one instance, Abrahams allegedly threatened a victim that he would transform their “dream of being a model...into [the victim] being a porn star.”

In June, FBI agents served search warrants at Abrahams' residence in Temecula. They seized computers, laptops, cellphones and thumb drives, revealing evidence of hacking and malware software allegedly used to take over the victims’ computers and images and videos of some of the victims.

During the search, Abrahams allegedly admitted to infecting people’s computers with malware; watching his victims change their clothes; and using photographs against the victims.

He allegedly admitted that Wolf—they both attended Great Oak High School in Temecula—was the first victim he knew personally.

He also allegedly admitted to getting one victim to go on Skype and take her clothes off at his direction, then pretending to delete the original images he had of the victim.

“I’m downloading Skype now. Please remember I’m only 17. Have a heart,” the victim wrote, to which Abrahams allegedly responded, “I’ll tell you this right now! I do NOT have a heart!!! However I do stick to my deals! Also age doesn’t mean a thing to me!!!”

Using IP addresses and VPNs, investigators were successful in the initial tracking of one of the messages Abrahams is suspected of sending to Wolf.

The lengthy computer forensic investigation revealed additional alleged victims in Temecula, Woodland Hills, Maryland, Ireland, Canada, Russia and elsewhere.

Using "trap and trace" devices that backtracked to Internet Protocol addresses and virtual private networks allegedly utilized by the defendant—who used the online handle "cutefuzzypuppy"—in contacting the victims, investigators were able to identify him, according to court papers.

Abrahams allegedly told an FBI investigator that he was a freshman in college studying computer science because he was good at it.

At the time of that interview, Abrahams allegedly had about 30 to 40 "slave computers"—those that he had allegedly hacked into and controlled remotely— and had had as many as 100 to 150 in the past.

Abrahams was released from custody late Thursday—confined to his home and required to wear a GPS monitor. He will also be prohibited from using any computers except for school work.

He is due back in court for possible arraignment on Nov. 4.

Abrahams' attorney, Alan Eisner, said after today's hearing that his client has been diagnosed with autism.

The defendant's family, who were in court, "want to express their profound regret and remorse for his behavior," Eisner said. "They acknowledge the harm to the victims and the victims' families."

Abrahams has received some treatment for his autism before the alleged incidents took place, "but to the level he apparently needs," Eisner said.

U.S. District Judge Jean Rosenbluth struggled with fashioning terms of the defendant's release because of his computer skills and how "ubiquitous" Internet-connected devices have become.

"What he did was very serious," the judge said, adding that it amounted to "world-wide compromising of minors' privacy."

Abrahams' mother told the judge she's home all day and can keep an eye on her son. His father pledged to get rid of all computers in the home.

"The defendant was released on intensive pretrial supervision and home detention with electronic monitoring," Eimiller said, noting that his parents each signed for a $25,000 appearance bond. 

The judge was "very thorough in reviewing the conditions," the FBI spokeswoman said. "There was significant discussion surrounding whether any computer use should be permitted given he is a computer science student and the conduct in the case.

"Judge Rosenbluth ultimately elected to allow him to use one desktop computer at his parents' home for school purposes—only after pretrial installs a monitoring software tomorrow." 

The FBI is continuing its investigation.

"Investigators estimate that Abrahams has victimized more women, but they have not identified all of the victims whose accounts were allegedly hacked by Abrahams," Eimiller said.

Anyone who believes they may have been a victim in this case should contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at 310-477-6565.

Assistance was provided during the investigation by the Temecula Police Department and the Baltimore Police Department, Eimiller said.

This is a developing story; please revisit this link for updates on Abrahams’ arrest and the charges against him.

Editor’s Note: The outcome of these allegations, as well as the facts, may change as the case progresses through the legal system. Not all details of each investigation are made public. All items are alleged to have occurred. There should be no assumption of guilt.

—City News Service contributed to this report.

Donna Moore September 26, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Another example of the wonderful life in Temecula. Drug arrests at all the High Schools, a Maintenance worker sexually assaulted at Temecula High. 2 Murrieta Football players arrested for sexual assault. Young girls being followed and stalked. Hey... this a community I DON'T want to live in.
Steve Newman September 26, 2013 at 04:54 PM
Donna- then if you do live here-leave. Where did you move from, Shangri la? Maybe a gated community where nobody is free to leave. As populations increase, so does crime. Don't really know where you can go to feel "safe". But if you move, let the Patch know. Someone else will take your place.
Steve Newman September 26, 2013 at 05:37 PM
And here I though it might have been Jeff the stalker- but he is in jail, so guess not.
Camille Carbone-Thrasher September 26, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Donna- move. We didn't want all you transplants here anyways!
SA September 26, 2013 at 07:04 PM
Ms. Moore, you just describe 99% of every town, city, State and county in this country … There are junkies, winos, pimps and whores everywhere you go…
JP September 26, 2013 at 07:15 PM
This happens everywhere, moron.
CB September 26, 2013 at 08:49 PM
This stuff has gone on everywhere always, our exposure to it is what has changed. Temecula is safe compared to most of the US but you can leave to find out for yourself if you want.
MTS209 September 26, 2013 at 09:40 PM
I am happy she did not fold and stood up to him. However, my next question is how someone so young (and most likely from a privileged household.....as Great Oaks is in the high RE area of Temecula) can come up with this!! Are these kids so divorced from their parents, reality, morals, common sense and family? I don't understand!
Cheryl W September 26, 2013 at 10:41 PM
MTS there are psychopaths in any society, rich or poor. He is a sick person if this is true. She was so brave to bring this to light and hopefully stop any further crime. I'm so glad he was caught.
Jenny Public September 27, 2013 at 10:48 AM
what do u expect with all the swingers in this town. teachers and even religious leaders wives are all doing it..
Steve Newman September 27, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Jenny Public- doing what-spying on people through their computers-sending sex photos on the internet, blackmailing. What?
Jenny Public September 27, 2013 at 03:43 PM
steve newman. children learn behaviors from the adults around them. if they see the adults that should be proper examples of how to be upright citizens behaving with no morality instead then this is what you get. little perverts! my child USED to have a friend that found one of his teachers on a site called adult friend fnders. I can only describe what this lady is doing as totally disgusting.. yet she us still teaching locally. her husband, thank god, no longer is pastor here. DISGUSTING. these are our youth!!
MTS209 September 27, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Jenny Public....one example out of over 100,000 people (that is only Temecula) does not make a town "where all doing it". I think your rationalization of Temecula is a bit skewed. Besides, how are you so aware"of all the swingers in this town" where I have lived here since '84 and have never heard of one.
Steve Newman September 27, 2013 at 05:00 PM
MTS209- maybe she has personal knowledge-on line porn is a big thing- so I heard. And what was her son's friend doing on a site like that- no parental controls on that computer. And the woman is still teaching-well go to the board and bring it to their attention. With all the teachers having sex with students in the news lately- it should not be too hard to get her disciplined. And her husband was a pastor, except for being her husband, what does he have to do with the subject matter. More of this story to follow, I'm sure.
Jenny Public September 27, 2013 at 05:17 PM
the denial you people have is utterly amazing!
Steve Newman September 27, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Jenny Public- as are you, with your mistaken thoughts about Temecula. It is not Rome.
Donna Moore September 27, 2013 at 09:02 PM
I was only trying to make the point.. That Temecula is not Shangri la... It is just like every other city. I am just tired of the individuals who moved to Temecula stating it is "Better". The ones who are constantly making derogatory comments about other cities and areas, stating that Temecula is "the best place to live".
wolfcreek September 28, 2013 at 10:50 AM
Having moved here about 2 years ago from SE Los Angeles County I can tell you that Temecula is a GREAT place to be!
Steve Newman September 28, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Donna- "this is a place I don't want to live" your words. And as Wolfcreek stated,there are places much worse than Temecula, so if you move here from one of them, say South LA- yes Temecula is by and far better. Better than corona, Perris, san Berdo, Hemet, Banning, Beaumont, Inglewatts- I could go on but you should get the point.
TVOR September 28, 2013 at 09:57 PM
Steve, parental controls are all but useless. Virtually anyone can access porn with no checks or difficulty. I think all adult websites should be under a common "dot something". Perhaps dot sex?
Vicki September 29, 2013 at 11:38 AM
Better than Santa Monica, culver city, city of industry and Huntington Beach as well. There's plenty of L.A. that transplants have messed up but this kid isn't a transplant. I find it hilarious and pathetic him having autism is used as if that's the reason for his behavior. Bottom line you have a jacked up immoral kid you "raised" who got caught. Autism has nothing to do with it. Plenty with autism not threatening girls on computers.
TVOR October 01, 2013 at 02:10 PM
I agree with Vicki, autism like this kid allegedly has does not prevent anyone from knowing right from wrong.
Steve Newman October 01, 2013 at 03:28 PM
They(parents) are just using his autism as an excuse for lack of parental control. Reslly disgusting- kind of like Michael J Foxs' TV show playing up Parkinsons.


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