DTLA Man Charged with Hacking into Social Media Accounts

Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger on smartphone

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A downtown Los Angeles man was charged Thursday in a federal grand jury indictment for allegedly defrauding female social media influencers by hijacking their Instagram accounts to obtain money and engage in sexually explicit video chats.

Amir Hossein Golshan, 24, is charged with two counts of wire fraud and one count each of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, accessing a computer to defraud and obtain value, aggravated identity theft and threatening to damage a protected computer, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Golshan has been in federal custody since his arrest on Feb. 2. An arraignment is scheduled for Friday morning in Los Angeles federal court.

The defendant allegedly engaged in "SIM swapping," the process of fraudulently inducing a carrier to reassign a cell phone number from the legitimate subscriber or user's SIM -- Subscriber Identity Module -- card to a card controlled by another without the legitimate user's approval.

According to prosecutors, from April 2019 to this month, Golshan schemed to defraud female social media influencers, models, and their friends on social media. He allegedly accomplished his scheme by targeting social media influencers and causing the victims' cell phone numbers to be SIM-swapped to a phone he controlled. Golshan then reset the password and codes for the victims' social media accounts, the indictment alleges.

Golshan then allegedly logged into the victims' social media accounts, impersonated them to their online friends, and requested that the victims' friends send him money. Other times, Golshan allegedly extorted the victims for money and sexually explicit chats to return the victims' accounts.

If convicted of all charges, Golshan would face up to 20 years in federal prison for each wire fraud count, up to five years for each computer hacking-related count and a mandatory two-year prison sentence for the aggravated identity theft count, prosecutors noted.

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