WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDAM) - This is a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Michael Daniel Rubens, 31, formerly of Tallahassee, Florida, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a $15,000 fine and $1,550 in restitution for cyberstalking, unauthorized access to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft. The sentence was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher P. Canova for the Northern District of Florida.
During his guilty plea on Dec. 3, 2015, Rubens admitted that, between January 2012 and January 2015, he publicly humiliated dozens of young women by hacking into their online accounts, including e-mail and social media, stealing photographs and other personal information, using the photographs to create pornography and posting the pornographic images on social media websites and on a revenge pornography website that was recently shut down by the FBI. Rubens engaged in most of the conduct from his residence in Tallahassee. He used software to conceal his IP address.
Rubens' victims included an employee of a local restaurant he frequented, an out-of-town colleague, an acquaintance in his office building, clients of the defendant's employer, a former girlfriend and her colleagues, high school classmates and the victims' relatives or friends. For one particular woman, Rubens' laptop contained 470 files with more than 5,000 references to the victim. Rubens' computer searches focused on finding the victims' personal identifying information, such as past addresses, family information and other personal data that could be used to answer security questions. As a result of Rubens' conduct, the victims became afraid to conduct any online activities and often deleted their social media presence entirely. In some instances, the conduct also damaged the victims' personal relationships.
Urging leniency, Ruben's counsel argued that, unlike bank robbery or drug dealing, cyberstalking was not something people thought of as a serious crime. U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle for the Northern District of Florida responded, "Perhaps it's time they learned."
"This sentence sends an unequivocal message to anyone tempted to use a computer as a weapon to victimize and steal the identities of others: Expect to be prosecuted. And expect to go to prison," said Acting U.S. Attorney Canova.
"This criminal hacked into social media accounts and tormented women with blackmail and harassment," said Special Agent in Charge Susan L. McCormick of Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) Tampa Field Office. "His crimes demonstrate how predators use the Internet to target innocent victims and ruin lives. With the help of victims and our law enforcement partners, like the Florida State University Police and the Leon County Sheriff's Office, HSI will find these predators and hold them accountable."
This case resulted from investigations by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, the Florida State University Police Department, and the Leon County Sheriff's Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Beaton.