The FBI has arrested an “Internal Technology Resident” at Google after he allegedly obtained nude photos of a Texas college student by way of a Gmail scam and subsequently used them in an attempt to extort more nude photos.
23-year-old Nicholas Rotundo has been charged with three felonies – two for cyberstalking and one for computer intrusion. He faces up to 11 years in prison.
Authorities paint a pretty bizarre picture of Rotundo’s scheme. According to police, he obtained the original nude photos by way of an email scam. Apparently Rotundo posed as a researcher operating a “breast perception study.”
From The Smoking Gun:
In a series of e-mails sent to the victim, Rotundo claimed to be conducting a “breast perception study,” a research project that “involved the public’s perception of different breast types.” Candidates, he initially wrote, were “required to submit nude photographs of their breasts in order to be considered for participation in the study,” which paid $4500. The sender’s name on the e-mails from firstname.lastname@example.org was “Women Study.”
According to court documents, at least a few women fell for the scam. The Texas student at the heart of the case sent four nude photos to Rotundo after he upped the ‘offer’ to $8,500.
More from Smoking Gun:
Five weeks after sending the naked photos, [the victim] received an ominous e-mail from a new address, email@example.com. The sender, “John Smarting,” claimed to have “stumbled across” her naked photos, images that he claimed, “I would hate for anybody else to see.”
Attached to the January 26 e-mail was one of the nude images, which “Smarting” said he forwarded “for reference.” Referring to a distinctive piece of jewelry seen in the photo, “Smarting” stated, “Wearing that necklace really hurt plausible deniability.”
“Hope you’re having a good Sunday! I’ve stumbled across some pictures of you. The type that I would hate for anybody else to see, and I can make sure that nobody else does. However, I’m gonna need you to help me fill out the set. Could you help me?” read one of the emails.
Rotundo went on to demand images like “1 in-focus, high-resolution photo of your feet” and “1 in-focus, high-resolution photo of your pussy, with something inserted.”
He threatened to release her nude photos online if she failed to comply.
During their investigation, the FBI found that the Texas student wasn’t the only woman Rotundo allegedly violated.
Additionally, other e-mails contained attachments “with the keystroke activity of two female victims as well as periodic photographs of those two victims taken surreptitiously via the web cameras of their laptops.” In subsequent law enforcement interviews, the two victims both said that they had once provided their computers to Rotundo “after he had agreed to fix issues they were having with their laptops.”
According to officials, Rotundo made no real attempts to cover his tracks, and was relatively easy to locate once they received the complaint. I think it’s safe to say that his days at Google are over.
Image via Thinkstock