An Orange County man was charged Tuesday by federal authorities with using malicious software to download explicit photographs of scores of women and girls and using those images to try to extort pornographic materials from them, officials said.
Luis Mijangos allegedly victimized at least 44 girls and 186 women in the so-called sextortion case, according to a 23-page criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Federal authorities expect to find more victims.
Mijangos, a paraplegic wounded in a gang shooting, was being held on $10,000 bail Tuesday after making his first appearance in federal court.
The complaint was filed after a two-year investigation by the FBI's cyber squad and alleges that Mijangos, 31, used software to hack into computers and extract data he would later use to threaten his victims.
The software gave him access to all the files, pictures and videos on an infected computer. It also allowed him to remotely access any web camera and microphone attached to an infected computer to watch and listen to unknowing victims, according to the criminal complaint.
In one case, the complaint alleges Mijangos sent an e-mail to a victim in which he attached a nude picture of her and threatened to expose the images to her family if she did not send him a pornographic video of herself or if she told anyone.
"I will publish the images and let your family know about your dark side … so you better do that video, send it to me via e-mail and you will never hear from me ever," Mijangos said in the e-mail, according to the criminal complaint.
"If I don't hear from you then your family will hear from me," he wrote in another e-mail, the complaint states.
Mijangos had dozens of videos from web cameras that showed unknowing victims in various states of undress, including stepping out of the shower, getting dressed and having sex, the FBI alleges in the affidavit.
Federal authorities also found screen grabs of financial information such as credit cards, websites and accounts during a search of Mijangos' Santa Ana home.
The case grew out of a 2009 investigation by the Glendale Police Department involving a woman who suspected she was being stalked by her ex-boyfriend. The case was turned over to the FBI, which found evidence pointing to Mijangos.
Forensic analysis tied the suspect to hacking activity dating back to 2008, the federal complaint alleges.
Mijangos, a Mexican national, allegedly used the name Guicho and the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org to reach women. Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI's Los Angeles office at (310) 477-6565.