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Chicago man sentenced to 8 years in prison for Snapchat phishing scheme

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A Chicago man was sentenced to eight years in prison for a Snapchat phishing scheme in which he targeted college-age women throughout the country to steal their personal information and photos.

Joseph Alexander Valdez, 30, previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identify theft and stalking in connection with the scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Florida.

Prosecutors said between June 2021 and December 2022, Valdez found college-age women, including two students at Florida State University and one student at the University of Florida, and tried to deceive them into giving him the passwords to their Snapchat accounts.

After accessing the victims' accounts, Valdez took screenshots of their subscriber information, including their names, phone numbers, and email addresses, and downloaded their private information, including nude photographs. He also communicated in online chatrooms and forums with other people who used similar schemes and traded and shared photos with Valdez.

After obtaining the private photos, Valdez taunted the victims, bragged about having their private photos, and commented on their bodies, prosecutors said. Valdez victimized or tried to victimize more than 700 women.

"The defendant's calculated invasion of the victims' privacy is both despicable and illegal," said U.S. Attorney Jason R. Coody in a statement. "Moreover, his attempts to shame, taunt, and in some instances extort his victims, demonstrate his predatory nature and desire to inflict harm. This sentence rightly punishes the defendant and should serve as a significant deterrent to others."

Prosecutors said after serving his prison sentence, he will have to serve three years of supervised release. He also has to pay restitution to the victims.

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