A Glendale man was arrested Tuesday after a year-long FBI investigation that uncovered his online “sextortion” scheme.
Karen “Gary” Kazaryan, 27, allegedly targeted 350 women by hacking into multiple Facebook, Skype and email accounts for the purpose of gathering naked and semi-naked photos. After gaining access to the accounts, Kazaryan changed the passwords so his victims couldn’t regain access while he carried out his scheme.
“Once he controlled the accounts, Kazaryan searched emails or other files for naked or semi-naked pictures of the victims, as well as other information, such as passwords and the names of their friends,” prosecutors said in a press release. “Using that information, Kazaryan posed online as women, sent instant messages to their friends, and persuaded the friends to remove their clothing so that he could view and take pictures of them.”
The FBI said he was able to gather over 3,000 photos of his victims. If women refused to send him photos, he posted other revealing photos he had stolen on their Facebook pages as a form of coercion.
Kazaryan was arraigned Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to 15 counts of computer intrusion and 15 counts of aggravated identity theft. Relatives and residents sharing Kazaryan’s apartment have been avoiding media and news crews, which may be an indication of what the judge on the case refers to as a “den of thieves.” Kazaryan faces up to 105 years behind bars and bail is set at $75,000.