Akash Sondhi, 27, of Chafford Hundred, Essex, targeted 574 victims across the UK, Australia, Hong Kong, Romania and other countries, by hacking into their SnapChat Accounts.
Sondhi targeted girls and young women, aged between 16 and 25 years old over a five year period between 2015 – 2020. He told the victims that if they didn’t send intimate images of themselves to him, he would expose existing images to their friends and family in their phone contacts.
Essex Police’s Cyber Crime Unit raided his address in Hedingham Road, Chafford Hundred on the 19th March last year, after several victims reported him to police.
Yesterday, Tuesday 5th January at Basildon Crown Court, Sondhi admitted a total of 65 offences – including hacking, blackmail, and voyeurism.
He was sentenced to 11 years in prison, a five year Serious Crime Prevention Order and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years.
Judge Cohen told Sondhi:
“You were a source of pride to your family, but now you are a source of shame”
The Judge also said the report into Sondhi’s offending said it was “predatory, manipulative and motivated by sexual desires”.
Detective Sergeant Ian Collins, from the Essex Police Cyber Crime Unit said:
“This is an excellent result for the 573 victims in this case and the Essex Cyber Team.
“The sentence Akash Sondhi has received today reflects how much distress he caused to his victims.
“He targeted with no remorse purporting to be a friend on social media after hacking accounts, then once he got access to their intimate pictures he would attempt to blackmail them around disclosure of the images to friends and family demanding more images and videos of his own choice putting the victims through an ordeal causing extreme distress and embarrassment.
“Since his remand and now this sentence we have managed to stop this vile offender form targeting more victims.
“This is a wakeup call for anyone committing this type of crime we will catch you and bring you to justice, and you can go to prison for the distress caused to the victims.
“I urge anyone using social media not to store intimate images of themselves to secure and protect your data and make sure you don’t become a victim.
“Don’t share passwords even if you think it’s a trusted friend that asks you for them it might not be, its chat in a text”
“There are several ways to secure your online accounts which most online providers support such as the use of two factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) put this with a strong unique password for each online account will protect you and your data.”
Joseph Stickings, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said:
“Akash Sondhi was an extremely manipulative man who inflicted emotional and psychological damage on young women whilst also getting gratification from their images and videos.
“I would like to thank all of the women who bravely came forward to tell of their traumatic experiences at the hands of Akash Sondhi, their accounts provided strong evidence and the CPS were able to create such a compelling case of prosecution that Akash Sondhi pleaded guilty to all counts.”
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