Student given suspended sentence for blackmail


A 20-year-old student has been given a suspended sentence for hacking into a woman’s Facebook messages and publicly posting naked photos of her.

William Wooles, from Great Dunmow in Essex, did not know his victim, but managed to access her sent messages where he found the intimate images she had sent to her boyfriend at the time.

After finding the pictures, Wooles, who was studying at Leeds at the time, sent the 20-year-old victim a message, describing what he had seen as “interesting” and asking to see more.

When the victim, who lives in Manchester, failed to respond, Wooles began threatening to publish the photos if she did not comply, writing “sorry, this could have been avoided if you just sent me what I asked for?”.

However, the victim was completely unaware of the messages from Wooles as they had gone directly into her Spam folder.

She later logged in to see the photos on her Facebook profile, so they could been seen by her 1,000 friends.

When she reported the incident, Greater Manchester Police used Wooles’ IP address to track him to Leeds. He was later arrested in his halls of residence.

While being interviewed, Wooles admitted threatening to do the same thing to another woman after hacking into her email, though he never published her pictures.

Wooles has been sentenced to two years in prison for blackmail, suspended for two years. He has also been given a year for computer misuse, suspended for a year.

Detective Constable Ian Wrench from Greater Manchester Police said: “Wooles’ offences of blackmail were a disgusting betrayal of two girls’ most private intimate moments.

“We can all imagine the emotional damage, not to mention embarrassment, of having private images posted all over your Facebook page for loved ones and friends to see.

DC Wrench warned: “Wooles worked out people’s passwords via open source information that was available to anyone on the internet.

“Everyone needs to be aware that security question answers are sometimes easily guessed and it is imperative that people use the highest standards of care when choosing passwords.”

Alongside the suspended sentences, the student was also given 150 hours community service, a restraining order banning him from contacting his victims and an order to forfeit his laptop for destruction.

Rehema Figueiredo

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