May 22, 1996 1:30 PM PDT
AOL user guilty of blackmail attempt
Kansas veterinarian and America Online user Ron Hornbaker, 29, pleaded guilty yesterday to extortion and faces up to two years in jail and fines of up to $250,000 after trying to blackmail other AOL users, according to the Associated Press.
Hornbaker frequented an AOL chat room called "Married but Looking," posing as the flirtatious "Rita." When Rita's online admirers started talking dirty, Hornbaker then pretended to be her jealous policeman husband and threatened the men with bodily harm unless they paid up. None of the ten men that Hornbaker threatened gave him any money.
A Rockford, Illinois, man eventually turned Hornbaker in to the FBI.
To carry out his blackmail scheme, Hornbaker as the ribald Rita would troll chat rooms. Once he hooked his prey, Hornbaker would offer to show erotic photos of his Rita alter-ego in private rooms. But instead, the men would get threatening messages from the husband alter-ego saying he would track them down and hurt them unless they paid--usually between $500 and $2,000.
Hornbaker's sentencing has been set for August 16.
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