An Anchorage man will spend more than three years in federal prison after hacking into a former girlfriend's Instagram account, posting nude photos of her on her social media profile and impersonating her, federal prosecutors say.
Jeffery Ray Ward, 41, was sentenced to 40 months in prison and three years of supervised release for cyberstalking on Monday, according to a release from the U.S. attorney's office.
Ward has a history of domestic violence charges in Alaska and West Virginia, court documents say. He had previously been found guilty of physically assaulting the same victim whom he cyberstalked, court documents say.
While the physical assault case was pending, Ward threatened the victim in a text message, saying he'd put her "dirt on blast," court documents say.
In April, the victim called 911 to report that Ward had begun to call and text her through a new phone number, violating his conditions of release that ordered he have no contact with her, according to court documents.
That same day, the victim started getting texts from her family, saying her Instagram account had been hacked and someone was posting "nude, sexually explicit pictures of the victim," court documents say.
Ward changed the passwords and email addresses for the victim's Instagram account, and he began impersonating the victim by "direct message to engage in sexually explicit communications with the victim's prior boyfriend," prosecutors said.
Chief U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess told Ward at sentencing that "to call this a serious crime is an understatement."
In September, Ward pleaded guilty to the cyberstalking charge, prosecutors said.