TIME Crime

Google Employee Arrested for Alleged Nude Photo Blackmail

He posed as a researcher studying “the public’s perception of different breast types”

A man who worked for Google was arrested earlier this month after allegedly cyberstalking a former classmate and blackmailing her with naked photos in hopes of receiving more explicit images and video.

An FBI investigation alleges that Nicholas Rotundo, a 23-year-old internal technology resident at the company, posed as a researcher in order to get naked photos from a former University of Texas at Dallas classmate, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, citing documents posted on The Smoking Gun website. It is not yet known whether Rotundo still works at Google.

In 2013, Rotundo allegedly invited the university student, whose name is blacked out on the posted documents, to join a study about “the public’s perception of different breast types” from the email account “breastperceptionstudy@gmail.com.” The student was asked multiple times to send naked photos to the “study” in return for thousands of dollars in compensation. In December of that year, responding to an offer of $8,500, she did.

The following month, she received an email from a different address saying the sender had “stumbled across” naked photos and would promise to keep them a secret in exchange for several more explicit photos and a video. Despite several subsequent warnings and threats from the sender — including ones that threatened to post the initial photos on a revenge-porn website — the student alerted university authorities and an investigation later began.

According to documents, the FBI subpoenaed Google and other companies and was able to trace the emails to an IP address belonging to “Google Nick Rotundo.” Rotundo was indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 8. He pleaded not guilty to one charge of computer intrusion and two charges of cyberstalking.

[San Francisco Chronicle]

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