Massachusetts Man Sentenced to More than 17 Years in Prison for Cyberstalking Former Housemate and Others, Computer Hacking, Sending Child Pornography and Making Over 100 Hoax Bomb Threats
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling for the District of Massachusetts, Special Agent in Charge Harold H. Shaw of the FBI Boston Field Office and Waltham Police Chief Keith MacPherson made the announcement today.
Ryan S. Lin, 25, formerly of Newton, Massachusetts, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William G. Young of the District of Massachusetts, who also ordered him to serve five years of supervised release following his prison sentence. Lin pleaded guilty in April 2018 to seven counts of cyberstalking, five counts of distribution of child pornography, nine counts of making hoax bomb threats, three counts of computer fraud and abuse and one count of aggravated identity theft. Lin was arrested in October 2017 and has been held in custody since. As part of Lin’s plea agreement, Lin agreed to be sentenced to a minimum of seven years and a maximum of 17 ½ years in prison.
According to admissions made in connection with his plea and evidence presented at sentencing, from about May 2016 through Oct. 5, 2017, Lin engaged in an extensive cyberstalking campaign against a 25-year-old female victim. Lin, the victim’s former housemate, hacked into the victim’s online accounts and devices and stole the victim’s private photographs, personally identifiable information, and private diary entries, which contained highly sensitive details about her medical, psychological and sexual history, and distributed the victim’s material to hundreds of people associated with her.
Lin also created and posted fraudulent online profiles in the victim’s name and solicited rape fantasies, including “gang bang” and other sexual activities, which in turn caused men to show up at the victim’s home. Lin engaged in a number of other activities targeting the female victim, including relentless anonymous text messaging and additional hoaxes, from shortly after he met her until October 2017.
In addition to his former housemate, Lin engaged in cyberstalking activity aimed at six additional individuals. Some were associated with the former housemate, and others were entirely unrelated. The additional victims include two female victims who were also Lin’s housemates in Newton at the time of his arrest. On multiple occasions, Lin sent sexually explicit images of prepubescent children on an unsolicited basis to the primary victim’s mother, the victim’s co-worker and housemate, a friend of the victim who resided in New Jersey, and two of Lin’s former classmates in New York.
In addition to the cyberstalking activity, Lin falsely and repeatedly reported to law enforcement that there were bombs at the primary victim’s Waltham, Massachusetts residence. Lin also created a false social media profile in the name of the primary victim’s housemate in Waltham and posted that he was going to “shoot up” a school in Waltham, stating that there would be “blood and corpses everywhere.” These threats expanded beyond Waltham and became part of an extensive and prolonged pattern of threats to local schools, private homes, businesses, and other institutions in the broader community. Ultimately, Lin pleaded guilty to having made over 100 bomb threats, including 24 in a single day.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Boston Field Office and the Waltham Police Department. The Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office and Watertown, Newton and Wellesley Police Departments assisted in the investigation. Senior Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Harman Burkart, Chief of Lelling’s Cybercrime Unit, prosecuted the case.