UGA grad student faces federal cyberstalking, extortion charges

Georgia News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A University of Georgia graduate student faces federal charges for repeatedly harassing and threatening a woman on Instagram for sexually explicit images.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts, 23-year-old Gary Leach was arrested Friday on charges of cyberstalking and extortion through interstate threats. The charges carry a combined penalty of up to seven years in prison and a fine of $500,000.

Charging documents state Leach began communicating with the victim over Instagram in October 2019. Investigators found that Leach obtained private video calls and photos of sexual nature through false promises of payment.

He allegedly recorded the calls in secret and later threatened to share the recordings with the victim’s parents if she didn’t continue to send him images. For more than a year and a half, Leach repeatedly harassed and extorted the victim to perform acts of a sexually explicit and degrading nature, investigators claim.

Charging documents state Leach used anonymous accounts to contact the victim, including several variations of the username “u.kno_who,” along with “antonio.af.94,” “christhecool777” and “johnnsy_bravo777.”

He allegedly indicated he had “hundreds of vids and thousands of pictures” of other Instagram users, claiming some also didn’t know they had been recorded.

Those who believe they may be a victim of the allegations in this case are asked to email LeachIGvictims@fbi.gov with their name and best contact information so investigative staff can respond. For more information, visit here.

Leach is expected to appear in federal court in the Middle District of Georgia later Friday.

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