Social media cyberstalker gets 10 years in slammer

Cyyberstalker had wide variety of victims -- usually woman

A 31-year-old Florida man got 10 years behind bars for hacking women’s social media accounts including Facebook, stealing pictures and personal information and posting it on pornographic websites.

Specifically Michael Rubens was sentenced to 10 years in prison for cyberstalking, unauthorized access to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft, a $15,000 fine and $1,550 in restitution his crimes, according to acting Northern District of Florida U.S. Attorney Christopher Canova.

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According to the Department of Justice, during his guilty plea on Dec. 3, 2015, Rubens admitted that, between January 2012 and January 2015, he publicly humiliated dozens of young women by hacking their online accounts, including e-mail and social media, stealing photographs and other personal information, using the photographs to create pornography and posting the pornographic images on social media websites and on a revenge pornography website that was recently shut down by the FBI.

Rubens engaged in most of the conduct from his residence in Tallahassee and used software to conceal his IP address, the DoJ stated.

“Rubens’ victims included an employee of a local restaurant he frequented, an out-of-town colleague, an acquaintance in his office building, clients of the defendant’s employer, a former girlfriend and her colleagues, high school classmates and the victims’ relatives or friends. For one particular woman, Rubens’ laptop contained 470 files with more than 5,000 references to the victim,” the DoJ stated.

Rubens’ computer searches focused on finding the victims’ personal identifying information, such as past addresses, family information and other personal data that could be used to answer security questions. As a result of Rubens’ conduct, the victims became afraid to conduct any online activities and often deleted their social media presence entirely. In some instances, the conduct also damaged the victims’ personal relationships, the DoJ stated.

“This criminal hacked into social media accounts and tormented women with blackmail and harassment,” said Special Agent in Charge Susan L. McCormick of Homeland Security Investigations’ Tampa Field Office. “His crimes demonstrate how predators use the Internet to target innocent victims and ruin lives.”

The DoJ noted too that Ruben’s attorney urged leniency in sentencing arguing that, unlike bank robbery or drug dealing, cyberstalking was not something people thought of as a serious crime. U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle for the Northern District of Florida responded, “Perhaps it’s time they learned.”

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