A UK court has sentenced an Indian-origin man to 11 years in prison for blackmail, voyeurism and cybercrimes.
Akash Sondhi, 27, from Chafford Hundred in Essex, south-east England, hacked into the computer accounts of over 574 girls and young women to exploit them.
He gained unauthorised access to hundreds of social media accounts, in particular Snapchat, and went on to commit blackmailing crimes between December 26, 2016 and March 17, 2020, the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
He threatened victims that if they didn’t send him nude images of themselves, he would post intimate images of them to their friends and family. Some of the women complied and in at least six cases he went on to carry out his threats, it said.
“Akash Sondhi is an extremely manipulative man who inflicted emotional and psychological damage on young women, while also getting gratification from their images and videos,” said Joseph Stickings, a Senior Crown Prosecutor in the Complex Casework Unit for the CPS.
“Following a diligent and thorough investigation conducted by the Essex Police Cyber Crime Unit the CPS was able to build a comprehensive case of 65 counts reflecting the high level of his offending.”
The accounts of victims provided strong evidence and the CPS were able to create such a compelling prosecution case.
Sondhi admitted a total of 65 offences – including hacking, blackmail, and voyeurism – and was sentenced at Basildon Crown Court 11 years in prison, a five year Serious Crime Prevention Order, and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years.
According to Essex Police, Sondhi targeted 574 victims across the UK, Australia, Hong Kong, Romania and other countries by hacking into their social media accounts, while some of his victims have still not been traced.
Sondhi’s address at Hedingham Road in Chafford Hundred, Essex, was raided by officers on 19 March last year after several victims, aged between 16 and 25, made reports.