LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf said on Friday it was “weird” to learn that the 19-year-old California man charged with hacking into her webcam and taking nude photos in a so-called “sextortion” case, was a high school classmate.
Wolf, 19, told NBC’s “Today” show she has “mixed feelings” a day after the arrest of Jared Abrahams, and that part of her feels sorry for him.
“It’s weird for me to be able to put a face to the person who did this to me and to know that it’s somebody I went to high school with,” the beauty queen told “Today.”
“He was young, my age, and I just think it’s sad that he chose to do this and now has kind of put himself in this big dilemma,” Wolf said. “I don’t think he realizes the consequences that he’s done and the people that he hurt.”
Wolf and Abrahams are both from Temecula, in Southern California. The beauty queen told NBC she was not friends with Abrahams in high school, but knew his name and routinely passed him in the hallway.
A criminal complaint was filed against Abrahams accusing him of extortion, but prosecutors have not yet gone to a grand jury to obtain an indictment, and additional charges are possible, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.
The criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California identified one of Abrahams’ principal targets as “C.W.” but the court document and the FBI did not publicly name the woman or other people - from Ireland, Canada, Russia and other places - whose online accounts Abrahams is accused of having accessed.
The FBI is looking for other people who might have been targeted by Abrahams, Eimiller said.
Wolf told NBC the webcam on her home computer was remotely accessed by someone who snapped pictures of her changing clothes and walking back and forth from the shower.
An FBI statement said that in March Abrahams contacted the woman the agency identified as C.W. by sending her an e-mail with nude photos of her. He threatened to post them “all over the Internet” and warned that her “dream of being a model will be transformed into a porn star,” the FBI said.
Abrams told C.W. she could stop him from carrying out that threat by sending a video and more pictures of herself and chatting with him on Skype, where he said he wanted her to follow his commands for five minutes, the complaint stated.
Instead, C.W. alerted authorities, the FBI said.
After an initial court appearance on Thursday, Abrams was released on $50,000 bail by a federal judge who ordered that monitoring software be installed on the desktop at his parents’ home, Eimiller said.
Abrahams told investigators he infected people’s computers with malware, watched them in states of undress and used the photos for extortion, according to the criminal complaint.
Abrahams’ attorney Alan Eisner said his client and his family want to “accept the responsibility” and “apologize to the victims, not only the girls, but their families.”
“He acknowledges that the violation and the intrusion is a substantial violation of their privacy, their dignity,” said Eisner in a phone interview, adding that Abrahams until recently attended college and is on the autism spectrum which “affects his ability to engage in reciprocal communications.”
Abrahams is set to appear in court again on November 4, after an indictment is returned against him, Eimiller said.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Gunna Dickson