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Two Sentenced for ‘Sextortion’

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Two Silicon Valley men were sentenced to federal prison Monday for trying to extort professional poker players with naked photos stolen from email accounts.

Tyler Schrier, 23, of Menlo Park, was sentenced to 3½ years, and Keith James Hudson, 39, of San Jose, to 2 years, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Schrier pleaded guilty to conspiracy, extortion and unauthorized access to a protected computer.

"In addition to the 'sextortion' plot, Schrier admitted that he had previously extorted and received more than $26,000 from professional poker players in another plot," prosecutors said in a statement. "He further admitted that while free on bond after being charged in the 'sextortion' case, he illegally accessed two email accounts that allowed him to steal approximately $4,000 from online poker accounts."

Hudson pleaded guilty to unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information for private financial gain.

"Hudson admitted that he hacked into a poker player's email account, stole naked photographs from the illegally accessed account, and plotted with Schrier to extort poker players with those naked images," prosecutors said in the statement.

According to the U.S. attorney: "The sextortion scheme took place in the fall of 2010, after members of the conspiracy illegally accessed an email account belonging to Joe Sebok. Armed with intimate emails and photographs of the victim, Schrier threatened to post those intimate photographs and emails on the Internet unless Sebok and other victims paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in extortion payments. Sebok and the other victims in this sextortion case did not make any payments.

"As part of the scheme, in November 2010, Schrier sent an email with a nude photograph of Sebok to approximately 100 individuals."

Sebok spoke at the sentencing hearing Monday, telling the judge that the plot had left his life "altered and shattered in irreparable ways."

"I was no longer able to maintain my then-current level of participation in the poker industry, representing the brands that I had been previously, as well as greatly destroying my ability to do so with new companies moving forward. Without belaboring the point too much, it was a nightmare, and one that I was forced to live through with millions of people watching," Sebok said, according to the U.S. attorney.

A third defendant, Ryan Finney, 22, of Philadelphia, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing in Philadelphia Federal Court.

Schrier's plea deal involved federal prosecutors in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Connecticut, Boston, Tampa and Minnesota.

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