FBI Announces Cyberstalker’s 14 Months of Threats to Injure, Rape, and Kill
LOS ANGELES – The FBI has announced the November 15, 2021 sentencing of a Pasadena man who conducted cyber crimes that United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer described as “horrendous.”
The British national, Samuel Trelawney Hughes (33), of Pasadena, terrorized as he hid under the cloak of cyberstalking.
For 14 months – from May 2019 to June 2020 – graphic threats of harm, rape, and kill were delivered to victims in a series of emails. Court documents described how Hughes stalked and sent anonymous threatening communications.
Multiple victims feared for their lives. Even when law enforcement was notified – Hughes not only paid it no mind, but according to the FBI, in October 2019 notified a victim that “someone I can guarantee will come out and first bash you[r] head in, rape you slash your throat and burn your car and house.”
The Department of Justice (DOJ) U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California added that the cyberstalker’s actions often followed a pattern of meeting victims, (mostly women,) through his employment or at networking events. A short time later, he’d seek further social interaction with an invite for a one-on-one date.
Social media accounts and email was his mode of delivery. Whenever victims failed to reciprocate, and indicated no further desire for interaction – Hughes’ anonymous threats would commence, disguised via anonymous online accounts as well as via U.S. Mail.
“The messages sent to the victims were direct, graphic, and disturbing in nature, and they contained threats to injure, rape, and kill victims,” said DOJ. Not only did direct contact from federal and state law enforcement not stop this stream of horror, but Hughes persisted – to deliver more of the same to victims, while threatening to injure or kill either the victim or their family.
A sentencing memorandum from the Prosecution stated that “[Hughes] used his computer skills to terrorize these victims and their families with harassment and death threats from anonymized account (while) anonymizing techniques and planning allowed him to avoid identification – and punishment – for months while he continued his online harassment campaigns. [Hughes’] conduct traumatized the victims, putting many in fear for their lives and the lives of family members. Some feared going to work or even leaving their homes.”
The FBI investigated this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Lauren Restrepo of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crime Section prosecuted this case.
Quelled only by a 37-month sentence in federal prison, for the series of graphic online threats to harm, rape, and kill – Hughes had pleaded guilty in October 2020 to one count of stalking, one count of witness tampering and one count of making threats by interstate communication.