Six people from Western Pennsylvania and another in North Carolina hacked into the Snapchat accounts of dozens of victims to gain access to sexually explicit images and videos to post online and also taught others how to do the same, a federal grand jury said.
The seven were named in an indictment handed up July 11 in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh following an investigation by the FBI. The case was unsealed Tuesday.
The lead defendant is Richard Alan Martz Jr., 33, of Meadville. The others are Dylan Miller, 30, of West Mifflin; Edward Grabb, 31, of Jeannette; Michael Yackovich, 27, of West Newton; Luke Swinehart, 22, of Lock Haven; and Karlin Jones, 26, of Beaver Falls. The North Carolina man is Christopher Clampitt, 33.
The seven are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, receipt of child porn and related offenses.
The grand jury said the defendants hacked into Snapchat accounts to remove explicit images and videos of the victims. After they obtained the material, they shared the images with each other and with others online without the knowledge of the victims.
Several of the accused hackers, including Martz and Clampitt, also provided scripts and instructions to others on how to similarly hack Snapchat accounts in exchange for payment, the grand jury said.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Eric Olshan said his office and the FBI will “reach far and wide” to prosecute anyone who uses the internet to victimize children.
Mike Nordwall, agent in charge of the Pittsburgh FBI, described the crimes as “reprehensible” and said that the FBI believes there are more victims. The indictment indicates at least 33.
“These victims were re-victimized multiple times as their personal pictures were recirculated,” he said. “We believe there is an extensive network of victims who still haven’t been identified.”