the takedown

Cyberstalker Gets 10 Years in Prison

Cyberstalking is a serious crime that comes with a serious sentence. 31-year-old Tallahassee, Florida resident, Michael Daniel Rubens, earned himself 10 years in prison for stalking several women online over the past three years and hacking into their social media accounts where he posted pornographic images of them.

His targets were mainly acquaintances, including high school classmates, women in his office building, and an employee at a restaurant he frequented. The women became afraid to conduct any online activities after Rubens’ conduct, and many resorted to deleting their social media presences entirely.

Rubens was arrested in January 2015, pled guilty to cyberstalking dozens of women, unauthorized access to a protected computer, and aggravated identity theft in December 2015. On Tuesday, Rubens was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, a $15,000 fine, and $1,550 in restitution.

“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,” Christopher P. Canova, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Florida, said in a statement.

When authorities scanned Rubens’ computer, they found 470 files on one victim and more than 5,000 references to that victim. Rubens searched his victims’ computers for any and all personal identifying information, including past addresses, family information, and any other data that could be used to answer security questions.

According to court documents, Rubens would pose as his victims and correspond with people close to them. Rubens victimized one woman who worked in the same building as he by posting doctored intimate images of her on her mother’s Facebook account, the records show.

Rubens’ attorney, Tor J. Friedman, wrote in a court filing that his client’s conduct “started as a curiosity to see what he could find out about someone through their online presence” and that he targeted “not necessarily friends or acquaintances but just individuals whose name[s] he knew, who he felt were attractive.” 

Special Agent in Charge Susan L. McCormick of Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Tampa Field Office said “This criminal hacked into social media accounts and tormented women with blackmail and harassment. 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.”

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