State Dept. Employee Charged With Cyberstalking, Hacking and Extortion
Michael C. Ford thought he was sophisticated in how he terrorized young women on the internet. His methods however, resulted in federal charges of interstate threats, fraud in connection with computers, wire fraud, and cyberstalking.
Some of us are familiar with the threats, being on the receiving end. They are threats that unless you do what the perpetrator wants, that they will post your personal information on the internet. Many times, that is combined with claiming to have some type of “public document” and misrepresenting it so they can demean and mock.
Michael C. Ford however, did not use “public documents” as a threat against his victims. He hacked into protected accounts on the internet and obtained sexual photos of his victims. The 17 page warrant is an interesting read.
Ford used various Google email addresses to make contact with a woman, reported to be 18-years old, letting her know that he had obtained some sexually compromising photos of her, and that he also knew her real name and address. He demanded that she take videos of other girls undressing and/or nude, and send them to him or he would release the photos to her family and friends, and post them on the internet along with her personal information.
Meanwhile in Chicago, a FBI agent was investigating the same situation with the exception that the perpetrator wanted the victim’s current home address and her parents’ personal information. Ford threatened to send photos of the victim to her parents and a list of friends, and even gave the victim the names and email addresses of her friends. Ford then emailed the victim’s parents and asked them for information about their daughter. The victim is a daughter to a well-known executive of a large multinational national company headquartered in Chicago.
In April 2015, a FBI agent, who was assisting the Henderson Kentucky police department, reached out to the Diplomatic Security Service. All they knew at that time was that the suspect was operating through an IP address assigned to the U.S. State Department. Investigators determined that Ford worked at the U.S. Embassy in London. Investigators found a list on Ford’s workplace computer of 250 email addresses, many of which are to sorority members. Investigators believe that the two victims they currently know about are only a fraction of Ford’s victims.
Before moving to London, Ford resided in the state of Georgia, and had visited there and was leaving last week when authorities apprehended him at Atlanta’s airport as he prepared to board a flight back to London. Ford was with his wife and son.
A criminal background check revealed that Michael Ford had been arrested for peeping-tom offenses.
Investigators went further. They obtained records from UK law enforcement agents regarding an email, stalking, and harassment complaint that they received in 2013. UK law enforcement traced the email message to the residence of a Michael Ford.
After he was apprehended by authorities, Ford gave a 3 hour confession. His defense? He couldn’t help nor stop himself.
Senior Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, flew in from Washington D.C. to oppose bond for Ford at a hearing Thursday in federal court in Atlanta. Magistrate E. Clayton Scofield set Ford’s bond at $50,000 and ordered, if Ford makes bond, to be on house arrest, and prohibited from having any computers or internet access in his house, including cars in the garage.
Ford is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on June 1.
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