At least nine current and former Southwestern College journalism students are the targets of a cyber blackmail scheme that has falsely associated them with drug trafficking, prostitution, pornography and publishing fake news.
Students serving as senior editor positions at the Southwestern College Sun are under siege from a cyber blackmailer using the handle email@example.com. The perpetrator is not associated with the Black Cube.com, a legitimate Israeli global cyber security agency run by former Israeli military generals and Mossad agents.
Sun editors Mirella Lopez, Jaime Pronoble, Brelio Lozano, Victoria Gonzalez, Chariti Niccole, Alyssa Pajarillo and former editors Darcy Aguayo, Mary York and Nickolas Furr have been targeted. They have all been linked by a cyber blackmailer to Predator Watch, which pretends to be PredatorWatch.CA, a Canadian site that lists convicted sex offenders. Predator Watch falsely posts the names and photos of unsuspecting persons on pornography sites and on criminal lists. Persons who are the victims of fake postings are led to a “reputation management” site called internetreputation.com which claims it can take down offensive attacks – for a $1,200 fee. A man who answered the phone at internetreputation.com denied he was associated with Predator Watch.
Predator Watch is an Internet revenge site operated by East Dayton, Ohio resident Scott Breitenstein, according to Kevin Roose of Fusion.net. Breitenstein is known as “The King of Revenge Porn” and “The Most Dangerous Man on the Internet” for his multiplicity of sites that blackmail random people with an Internet presence.
Predator Watch, for reasons unknown, has recently attacked several San Diego County journalists, including professionals at the San Diego Union-Tribune, NBC7 News, San Diego Free Press and the Reader in addition to The Sun.
Attacks were reported by The Sun to the FBI, as well as the San Diego Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Investigations are ongoing.
Southwestern College trustees and administrators have condemned the attacks. Professor of Journalism Dr. Max Branscomb said college officials and the San Diego County journalism community have been supportive of the students.
“We will continue to fight to protect and defend our students who in no way deserve this kind of abuse. These students are some of the finest currently attending Southwestern College and they are all talented young journalists with bright futures. For some creep to slime them like this and run a blackmail scheme that targets innocent young adults is cowardly and disgusting.”