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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.

In it, we look at the methods used by perpetrators and the prosecutorial tools authorities have used to bring offenders to justice.

We hope that by highlighting the scale and scope of the problem, and the brutality of these cases for the many victims they affect, to spur a close look at both state and federal laws under which these cases get prosecuted.

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.

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We begin with a literature review of the limited existing scholarship and data on sextortion.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.The average teenage or young-adult Internet user, however, is the very softest of cybersecurity targets.We searched dockets and news stories for criminal cases in which one person used a computer network to extort another into producing pornography or engaging in sexual activity.We found nearly 80 such cases involving, by conservative estimates, more than 3,000 victims. Prosecutors colloquially call this sort of crime “sextortion.” And while not all cases are as sophisticated as this one, a great many sextortion cases have taken place―in federal courts, in state courts, and internationally―over a relatively short span of time.

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