A Massachusetts man who pleaded guilty to cyberstalking and a slew of other charges has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison.
Ryan Lin, 25, of Newton, was arrested last October after being accused of operating a "chilling" cyberstalking campaign against his former roommate, her friends and her family. Other charges filed against Lin include distributing child pornography, making hoax bomb threats, computer fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Lin pleaded guilty to the 25 charges against him earlier this year. His plea agreement guaranteed him at least seven years in prison. Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge William Young sentenced him to 210 months in prison and five years of supervised release.
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Federal investigators said Lin began living with the victim and her roommates in the spring of 2016, after answering a Craigslist ad for a vacant room in their Watertown house.
Lin almost immediately launched a campaign against the woman after hacking into her online accounts and devices, stealing private photographs, personally identifiable information, and private diary entries that contained highly sensitive details about her medical, psychological and sexual history, prosecutors said.
Lin then shared the private photographs and diary entries with hundreds of others, including her co-workers and 13-year-old sister, according to prosecutors. He also created fake online profiles in her name with her personal address that solicited men to come to her home to fulfill rape fantasies. Men showed up at her home in response to the profiles.
Additionally, prosecutors said Lin sent sexually explicit images of prepubescent children to the woman's mother, co-worker, a housemate and two of his own former classmates.
Lin sent threatening messages to the victim, her family, friends and other associates, encouraging the victim to kill herself and threatening to rape and/or kill her and her friends. One time, he is said to have "pounded on her bedroom door at 3 a.m., then went to her bedroom, where she was sleeping, screaming at her."
Prosecutors also said Lin harassed a client for whom the victim was pet sitting, claiming to be her and that she had killed the pet, which had panicked the pet owner and led to the pet owner calling police, who confronted the victim.
Additionally, Lin was behind dozens of threats to bomb or shoot up schools and daycare centers in Waltham and Chelmsford. And he pinned those crimes on the woman he was cyberstalking using fake social media profiles.
"Mr. Lin allegedly carried out a relentless cyberstalking campaign against a young woman in a chilling effort to violate her privacy and threaten those around her," Weinreb said. "While using anonymizing services and other online tools to avoid attribution, Mr. Lin harassed the victim, her family, friends, co-workers and roommates, and then targeted local schools and institutions in her community. Mr. Lin will now face the consequences of his crimes."
The investigation was carried out by Waltham detectives and FBI investigators in cooperation with the Waltham School District.
"Those who think they can use the internet to terrorize people and hide behind the anonymity of the net and outwit law enforcement should think again," said acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. "The Department of Justice will be relentless in its efforts to identify, arrest, prosecute, and punish the perpetrators of these horrendous acts and seek justice on behalf of their victims."
Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Boston Field Division, said this kind of behavior is disruptive and causes an unnecessary drain on police resources.
"This kind of behavior is not a prank, and it isn't harmless," Shaw said. "He allegedly scared innocent people and disrupted their daily lives because he was blinded by his obsession. No one should feel unsafe in their own home, school, or workplace, and the FBI and our law enforcement partners hope today's arrest will deter others from engaging in similar criminal conduct."
In a joint statement, Waltham's mayor, public schools' superintendent and police chief thanked the various agencies involved in the investigation and the community "for their patience and understanding during this difficult time."
Warning: Testimony contained in the affidavit below may be too graphic for some readers.