A Massachusetts man is accused of operating a "chilling" cyberstalking campaign against his former roommate, her friends and family, which included making a series of bomb threats to a local school district.
Ryan S. Lin, 24, of Newton, was arrested Thursday night and charged with one count of cyberstalking for his actions against the 24-year-old female victim, according to acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb.
Federal investigators said Lin began living with the victim and her roommates in the spring of 2016, after answering a Craigslist ad for a vacant room in their Watertown house.
Almost immediately, authorities said Lin launched a campaign against the woman after hacking into her online accounts and devices, stealing private photographs, personally identifiable information, and private diary entries that contained highly sensitive details about her medical, psychological and sexual history.
Lin then allegedly shared the private photographs and diary entries with hundreds of others, including her co-workers and 13-year-old sister.
He also allegedly created fake online profiles in her name with her personal address that solicited men to come to her home to fulfill rape fantasies. Men showed up at her home in response to the profiles.
Prosecutors allege Lin sent threatening messages to the victim, her family, friends and other associates, encouraging the victim to kill herself and threatening to rape and/or kill her and her friends. One time, he allegedly "pounded on her bedroom door at 3 a.m., then went to her bedroom, where she was sleeping, screaming at her."
Lin is accused of also harassing a client for whom the victim was pet sitting, claiming to be her and that she had killed the pet, which had panicked the pet owner and led to the pet owner calling police, who confronted the victim.
Authorities also allege that Lin was behind dozens of threats to bomb or shoot up schools and daycare centers in Waltham and Chelmsford. And he pinned those crimes on the woman he was cyberstalking using fake social media profiles.
"Mr. Lin allegedly carried out a relentless cyber stalking campaign against a young woman in a chilling effort to violate her privacy and threaten those around her," Weinreb said. "While using anonymizing services and other online tools to avoid attribution, Mr. Lin harassed the victim, her family, friends, co-workers and roommates, and then targeted local schools and institutions in her community. Mr. Lin will now face the consequences of his crimes."
The investigation was carried out by Waltham detectives and FBI investigators in cooperation with the Waltham School District.
"Those who think they can use the Internet to terrorize people and hide behind the anonymity of the net and outwit law enforcement should think again," said acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. "The Department of Justice will be relentless in its efforts to identify, arrest, prosecute, and punish the perpetrators of these horrendous acts and seek justice on behalf of their victims."
Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Boston Field Division, said this kind of behavior is disruptive and causes an unnecessary drain on police resources.
"This kind of behavior is not a prank, and it isn't harmless," Shaw said. "He allegedly scared innocent people, and disrupted their daily lives because he was blinded by his obsession. No one should feel unsafe in their own home, school, or workplace, and the FBI and our law enforcement partners hope today's arrest will deter others from engaging in similar criminal conduct."
In a joint statement, Waltham's mayor, public schools' superintendent and police chief thanked the various agencies involved in the investigation and the community "for their patience and understanding during this difficult time."
In court Friday, the prosecution argued there was reason to hold Lin because of concerns Lin could make more online threats. The prosecution also said he posed a flight risk, as he holds a Chinese passport.
Lin is being held without bail pending a detention hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
He faces up to five years in prison and three years of supervised release.
Asked how Lin is holding up, his lawyer Francis Doran, said, "About as well as a young man can in these circumstances.'
Warning: Testimony contained in the affidavit below may be too graphic for some readers.