Luis Mijangos worked as a freelance computer consultant in Santa Ana, California, earning about US$1,000 per week writing programs and building websites. But he lived a double life, also earning as much as $3,000 per day hacking and stealing financial information from his victims.
He built virtually undetectable malware and used a variety of techniques to trick his victims into installing it on their computers. Then, he did more than just steal bank account numbers. "He read victims' e-mails and IMs, watched them through their webcams, and listened to them through the microphones on their computers," prosecutors said in court filings. "Often, he then used the information he obtained to play psychological games with his victims."
One victim, a juvenile identified by prosecutors only as S.G., sent Mijangos pornographic photos after he hacked into her computer and tricked her over instant message into believing he was her boyfriend. Mijangos then threatened to post the photos online if she didn't send him more pictures.
"It made me untrusting and paranoid to this day," S.G. wrote in a victim impact statement. "I didn't know who this man was, why he was doing it or [if] he would come back. Not knowing is the worst, most dreaded feeling."
Mijangos stole nude photos from the laptop of another victim -- a college student identified as A.V. -- and then listened in on her computer's microphone when the scared girl reported the incident to campus police. He then sent threatening e-mails to A.V. and her boyfriend to punish them for contacting authorities. According to court filings, "She reported feeling 'terrorized' by [Mijangos], was afraid for her safety, and did not leave her dorm room for a week after the episode."