A former NASA contractor was arrested in Los Angeles Wednesday morning on a federal warrant alleging he used the internet to target and threaten women, telling them he would expose intimate images of them unless they sent him additional explicit photos, prosecutors said.
Richard Gregory Bauer, 28, was taken into custody at his Mid-Wilshire residence after a 14-count indictment charging him with stalking, aggravated identity theft and other crimes was returned by a federal grand jury on Aug. 28, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a news release.
Bauer, who previously worked at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center near Lancaster, was arrested by special agents with NASA’s Office of Inspector General.
The 28-year-old is accused of harassing at least seven women via Facebook and email, masking his identity under aliases such as “Steve Smith,” “John Smith” and “Garret.”
He told the women he had nude photos of them — which he did, for six of the victims in the indictment, prosecutors said.
He allegedly sent the women the photos then claimed to have others, threatening to share them on the internet unless they sent him more in various stages of undress.
Bauer is also charged with having unauthorized access to the women’s computers and accounts.
The indictment alleges that to break into their accounts, he used his real Facebook profile to send them a series of questions purported to be part of a “human societies class” project. He used the queries to solicit information typically used for online password security questions, such as the name of your first part or city where your parents met, officials said.
At other points, Bauer would allegedly persuade the women to install malware, telling them he needed their help testing software he wrote. The malware then allowed him to access the victim’s passwords for websites and email accounts, prosecutors said.
The indictment accuses him of using the information to log into victims’ Facebook and Google email accounts on at least two occasions.
Bauer — who until recently lived near the NASA center, in Palmdale and Lancaster — was expected to be arraigned on charged of stalking, unauthorized access to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.
He could face a statutory maximum sentence of 64 years in federal prison if convicted as charged, officials said.
Federal authorities are continuing to investigate the case. Anyone who was information about Bauer’s online activities or believe they may be a victim cam contact NASA OIG Special Agent Joseph Bennett at 818-354-9768.