Europe US embassy worker in London accused of ‘sextortion’

US embassy worker in London accused of ‘sextortion’

Michael C Ford.He is said to have hacked into computers of the women from the US Embassy in London (pictured) and stole sexually explicit photos of them in the blackmail scheme
Michael C Ford.He is said to have hacked into computers of the women from the US Embassy in London (pictured) and stole sexually explicit photos of them in the blackmail scheme

A worker at the US embassy in London is accused of cyber stalking hundreds of women, threatening to post their private photos unless they met his demands.

Michael C Ford, who has lived in the UK since 2006, was arrested last week while visiting family in Atlanta.

Prosecutors say Mr Ford hacked accounts of women to obtain sexually explicit images of them.

The US State Department says he is no longer working at the embassy.

Mr Ford threatened his victims with the stolen images, demanding that they shoot videos of other women undressing, prosecutors said.

“I want you to record videos of sexy girls changing. In gyms, clothing stores, pools… You do that, and I disappear,” he wrote to one victim, according to the court documents.

When the victim did not comply, prosecutors said he wrote a follow-up email. “OK, time’s up. Everything I have will be posted online and sent to your friends. Pictures, name, phone number, home address… I gave you a chance and you blew it!” it read.

‘Phishing’ scams

In at least one case, prosecutors say, he emailed private photos to one woman’s parents and brother.

Mr Ford, 35, is accused of getting the women’s passwords through “phishing” scams using his State Department computer at the embassy.

“He targeted women at US colleges and universities and was looking for women who were members of sororities … and aspiring models,” Mona Sedky, a lawyer with the US Justice Department, told the Atlanta Journal Constitutionnewspaper. “He is just relentless.”

Prosecutors say he once posed as a Google employee to obtain passwords.

US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Thursday that Mr Ford was no longer working at the embassy. Ms Harf described Mr Ford as “administrative support employee”.

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