A British university researcher has been sentenced to 32 years in prison for a litany of “warped and sadistic” crimes, including blackmail and sexual exploitation.
Matthew Falder, 29, admitted to 137 separate offenses that when put together told “a tale of ever-increasing depravity,” Judge Philip Parker said according to Britain’s Press Association (PA).
“Your behavior was cunning, persistent, manipulative and cruel,” Parker said at Falder’s sentencing in Birmingham, the United Kingdom, Monday.
Falder was accused of posing as a depressed female artist who would ask young adults and teenager to send him naked pictures online. He then used the photographs to blackmail them, according to the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA). By the time he was arrested, Falder had approached more than 300 people across the world. Forty-five victims were represented on the court indictment.
Prosecutors described Falder as a man living double life; a Cambridge University graduate and Birmingham University researcher in geophysics by day and a sexual predator by night.
“In more than 30 years of law enforcement I’ve never come across an offender whose sole motivation was to inflict such profound anguish and pain. Matthew Falder reveled in it,” said Matt Sutton, a senior investigating officer at the NCA.
Falder committed some of crimes on so-called “hurt core” forums on the dark web, where users discuss and share images of violent acts like rape, murder, sadism, torture, pedophilia, according to the NCA.
He managed to evade investigators for years and was eventually arrested in June 2017 with the help of authorities in the United States, Australia and Europe.
Sutton, the investigating officer, said he had never seen an offender who was able to stay hidden for so long.
“The internet is a virtual scene. I had no forensics whatsoever, nothing, no trace whatsoever,” Sutton said according to the PA. “I basically had a needle in a haystack.”
Falder used more than 70 online identities in order to hide his tracks, the PA reported.
“There was a high degree of sophistication and significant planning by Falder due to his encryption of software and technology in his electronic communication, and the use of multiple fake online identities and encrypted email addresses,” said Ruona Iguyovwe of the Crown Prosecution Service’s International Justice and Organized Crime Division.