A former track and field coach who worked at several universities in the US was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly obtaining nude photos through deception from female student athletes he had coached.
The US Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts stated in a press release that Steve Waithe, a 28-year-old resident of Chicago, was taken into custody for cyberstalking and wire fraud.
Authorities found that Waithe stalked at least one female athlete on social media and used several fake Instagram accounts to trick others into sending him private pictures.
It was allegedly part of Waithe’s scheme to convince athletes to give him their phones for filming, then he used this access to steal sensitive photos.
He then told victims that he had found inappropriate photos of them online, and that he could help them get the pictures removed from the internet.
“Under this pretense, it is alleged that Waithe requested additional nude or semi-nude photos that he could purportedly use for ‘reverse image searches,’” the Attorney’s Office explained. “He used various pseudonyms on social media including variations of the phrase ‘Privacy Protector,’ ‘Katie Janovich,’ and ‘Anon’ followed by various numbers.”
As the investigation continued, the phrases “Can an Instagram be traced” and “Can anyone trace my fake Instagram account back to me?” were discovered on his Google search history.
Waithe was an employee at Northeastern University in Boston but was fired in 2019 due to his “inappropriate conduct” toward female student athletes. He also worked at Pennsylvania State University and the Illinois Institute of Technology.
If proven guilty, Waithe could face up to five years for cyberstalking and up to 20 years for wire fraud.