Do you send
nude pictures of yourself or others via email? Most of our readers are
probably too savvy for such nonsense, but if you do, you might want to think
twice about it.
George Bronk, a 23-year-old California native, has
admitted to trolling Facebook personals looking for young women who posted
their email addresses. From there he began to monitor their wall posts
and notes, in an effort to find answers to the security questions protecting
their email accounts.
Many email providers, including Hotmail and Gmail,
offer these kinds of questions to help customers regain access if they've
forgotten their password. Most customers answer them truthfully, which
can be exploited by malicious parties, as we pointed out in a recent
In Mr. Bronk's case, once he gained access to the
women's email accounts, he then typically scoured their email history looking
for nude or seminude pics. He then forwarded those pictures to all the women’s
contacts. He would also gain access to their Facebook accounts via the
email-driven password reset feature. He would then post nude pictures of
them to their Facebook profiles.
He would also post nude pictures of them on other
sites. And at least one woman he sent additional threats to, in order to
obtain more explicit pictures.
Mr. Bronk, who resides in Citrus Heights,
California, victimized dozens of women in the United States and Britain,
according to the California attorney general's office. He has plead
guilty to seven felonies in state Superior Court, including computer
intrusion, false impersonation and possession of child pornography.
His defense attorney, Monica Lynch, is urging
leniency pointing to Mr. Bronk's cooperativeness. She says her client
acted not out of malice, but out of immaturity, describing him in an Associate Press interview as a
"23-year-old boy going on 15." She argues, "He's accepted
full responsibility. It's a tragic situation."
Prosecutors disagree. They said that Mr.
Bronk knew what he was doing and are seeking a six-year prison sentence on
March 10 when the suspect returns to court for a sentencing evaluation.
At least one of the victims agrees. In a statement to the Associated Press, she states that the
incident felt like "virtual rape".
The suspect was caught after one of the victims
contacted the Connecticut State Police. Using computer records, they
tracked the suspect to California. From there the California Highway
Patrol took over. From there they obtained a search warrant and inspected
Mr. Bronk's computer. On it they found 172 e-mail files containing
explicit photographs of women from 17 states, including Washington D.C. and
Virginia, according to a court affidavit. According to some reports, he
may have exploited as many as 47 women.
Two of the women involved blame Mr. Bronk, but
they also blame Facebook and unnamed email providers for failing to secure
their privacy. Mr. Bronk's attorney also blamed Facebook for not catching
him in the act sooner. Facebook and e-mail service providers have faced
legal action stemming from victims of similar incidents in the past.
Facebook has been a favorite haunt for those looking
to victimize others sexually.