Belmont in New Hampshire is a typical small old mill town where everyone kind of knows everyone owing to its undeniably diminutive population and even fewer things to do around. Thus, it came as a complete shock when crime in the area jumped directly from opioid use or petty thefts to sextortion, as carefully profiled in episode 4 of Netflix’s ‘Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies and the Internet,’ entitled ‘Sextortion.’ Now, if you wish to learn more about Ryan J. Vallee — the tech-savvy local behind the horrific cyberattack concocted with the sole aim of harassing young teen girls, we’ve got the details for you.
Who is Ryan Vallee?
Ryan Vallee was just a teenager (16 or 17) when he took it upon himself to satisfy his needs by talking to teen girls on Facebook before coercing them into sending sexually explicit photos. He was not only an outcast around this time in high school but was also acting out either by not respecting the educators or by provoking fist fights even though he really “wasn’t a tough kid.” However, the full truth is that because Ryan preferred to keep to himself most days, he didn’t make a lasting impression on a majority of his peers, at least not in person or under his own name.
It was reportedly after Ryan’s efforts to talk to girls his age on social media as his awkward self failed that he took on aliases such as “Seth Williams” and sometimes even “James McRow.” He ensured their profile pictures made them look inviting as well as outdoorsy before sending out friend requests, primarily to those individuals he personally knew from Belmont High. From there, Ryan began giving his chosen targets a lot of attention to gain their initial trust, learn personal information, and then exchange numbers before shifting gears into a much more aggressive side.
Ryan’s subsequent demands for completely nude shots were insistent and neverending, so whenever the girls refused or attempted to fight him, he threatened them in the worst ways imaginable. He remotely hacked into their accounts, telling them that if he didn’t get what he wanted, he’d ruin their lives by sharing the explicit images they’d previously sent or those he’d found on their email. Ryan actually followed through with them as well, and in one case, he went as far as to order “items of a sexual nature” for a victim from her own Amazon account to prove he knew her address.
From claiming he’d show up in person to take what he wanted to actually sending the private photos to his other victims to making fake Facebook profiles that included the same, Ryan did it all. He even threatened to forward them to the loved ones/workplace of the girls, yet many of them gradually took back the power by telling their parents and reporting the harassment to the police. Since Ryan had used both spoofing as well as anonymous text services, it took a while for the authorities to identify and indict him for good, but it did happen in 2015 when he was 21.
Where is Ryan Vallee Now?
Ryan was let out on bail pending trial because he never conceded to any wrongdoing, but once it came to light that he was continuing to prey on young women, he was apprehended again. This time, though, as he was taken into custody following a high-speed chase for violating the conditions of his release, a smartphone recovered from his backpack revealed that he was, in fact, a serial cyberstalking predator. According to the federal authorities, between 2011 and March 2016, Ryan had criminally attempted to take advantage of at least 23 identifiable victims.
Ryan’s defense team did try to argue that his autism spectrum diagnosis, with limited communication skills, did change matters since it implies he didn’t know what he was doing but to no avail. He ended up pleading guilty to a total of 31 counts; 13 counts of making interstate threats, eight counts of computer hacking to extort, eight counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of computer hacking to steal information, and one count of cyberstalking.
As a result, in 2017, Ryan Vallee, who was 23-year-old at the time, was sentenced to the prosecutor-requested eight years in federal prison. Yet, he was granted release from a Massachusetts facility on January 20, 2022. Following his release, Ryan seems to be keeping his distance from the public eye at the moment.