LOS ANGELES (CN) — A Los Angeles man faces charges of hijacking the Instagram accounts of female social-media influencers and defrauding them and their friends — and in one case demanding they strip for him online.
Federal prosecutors say Amir Hossein Golshan, 24, tricked the influencers’ phone carriers into transporting his victims' mobile phone numbers to a phone he controlled, a scheme known as “SIM swapping."
Once he had control of the victims' phone number, prosecutors say, Golshan used it to reset their passwords and hijack their Instagram accounts. He faces charges of aggravated identity theft and two counts of wire fraud, among others, and could face as long as 20 years in prison on each count of wire fraud alone.
He's been in jail since his arrest on Feb. 2.
The influencers who fell victim to Golshan's scheme weren't identified in court filings.
According to a statement Thursday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in LA, Golshan logged into the victims’ social media accounts, impersonated them to their online followers, and requested the followers send him money. Other times, he extorted the victims for money and sexually explicit chats to return control of their social media accounts.
In one case, an LA-based model and social media influencer identified as “Victim 1” received a direct message on Instagram from an account owned by one of her friends, asking for her telephone number. Hours after she gave the number to the person she believed was her friend, her phone was no longer connected.
Golshan then was able to take over her Instagram account for one day and, posing as the influencer, managed to collect about $15,000 from her followers, according to the charges.
In another case, Golshan is accused of SIM swapping the number of "Victim 3" and taking control of her Instagram account. He demanded $5,000 from her and later told the woman that he would return her Instagram account to her if she initiated a video call and stripped for him.
Golshan's lawyer didn't return an email seeking comment on the charges by press time.
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