Cruel! Hypnotist hacked victims' social media and sold intimate photos

A County Durham comedy hypnotist has been jailed after using "insidious tactics" to hack into his victims' social media and then sell their intimate photos online.

Robert Temple, 36, from Bishop Auckland, will spend eight months behind bars after he admitted a slew of fraud charges, computer misuse offences, and concealing or transferring criminal property. The CPS said that in May 2021, police received a report from Action Fraud about an online forum in which users could make anonymous requests for explicit photographs of women.

Temple hacked the Snapchat accounts of two women and subsequently downloaded private pictures, including topless and nude pictures, to then sell them online. The unauthorised social media account access was traced by investigators to the defendant's home.

Furthermore, the 36-year-old committed identity fraud to mask his criminal activities by setting up cryptocurrency accounts in a woman's name but operating it himself, without her knowledge. Using the accounts, he concealed funds raised from selling the hacked, intimate photos.

According to the CPS, Temple admitted in interview that he had used these accounts to layer funds obtained from selling items obtained illegally.

Annette Thomas, senior crown prosecutor with CPS East Midlands, said: "The actions of Robert Temple were utterly reprehensible. Using insidious tactics, he exploited these unsuspecting women by hacking into their social media accounts and sharing intimate images of them online, without their knowledge, all for financial greed.

"Let this conviction be clear to those who hide behind a screen to commit their crimes, you cannot hide from the law and the Crown Prosecution Service will continue to work to achieve justice for victims of cybercrime."

Temple was on tour this month with his show Red Raw, named after his dyed hair, and may have expected to avoid jail. Last month, he was in the news when he successfully challenged Bolton Council over a public safety ban dating back to 1982 on "hypnotism, mesmerism and any similar act which produces induced sleep or trance".

After his win, Temple told The Guardian: "Hypnosis is only dangerous if it’s the wrong people and it’s used in the wrong way. I’m all for regulations, and to make sure people are insured and are high-risk assessed, have got some sort of training and do know what they’re doing."