State Dept. worker pleads not guilty to online ‘sextortion’

ATLANTA — A former US State Department employee accused of sending threatening emails to college-aged women from his computer at the US Embassy in London pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal charges.

A grand jury last month indicted Michael C. Ford on nine counts of cyberstalking, seven counts of computer hacking to extort and one count of wire fraud. He waived formal arraignment and pleaded not guilty at a hearing in federal court in Atlanta.

Ford victimized hundreds of people in the United States by posing as a member of Google’s account deletion team, which doesn’t actually exist, and sending emails to potential victims saying their accounts would be deleted unless they sent him their passwords, the indictment says.

Ford used those passwords to access email and social media accounts to obtain sexually explicit photos and to search for personal information and additional potential victims, the indictment says.

He then used false names, including

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