A former Northeastern track coach was arrested Wednesday for allegedly tricking female athletes into sending nude photos, federal prosecutors say.
Steve Waithe, 28, of Chicago, was charged with extortion, cyberstalking and wire fraud, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.
Former track & field coach at various universities including in Boston, Chicago, Penn. & Tenn. arrested & charged in connection w/ scheme to trick female student-athletes through sham social media accounts into sending nude and semi-nude photos https://t.co/6QwzQPCi2z
— U.S. Attorney MA (@DMAnews1) April 7, 2021
Waithe was employed as a track coach at the university from October 2018 to February 2019. Starting in at least February 2020, the 28-year-old prosecutors alleged that he began to contact Northeastern track and field athletes on social media under the pseudonyms “Privacy Protector,” “Katie Janovich,” and “Anon.”
Under the fake names, prosecutors alleged that he would extort images out for the athletes by telling them he had found compromising photos of them and that he could help get the images removed. Waithe allegedly requested “nude or semi-nude photos” under the premise they were for “reverse image searches,” according to the statement.
Investigators allege Waithe cyberstalked one female Northeastern student-athlete through messages sent on “social media, an anonymized phone number and intrusion into her Snapchat account.” The track coach’s search and browsing history revealed he had searched for information on how to hack into someone’s Snapchat account and he visited sites with titles like, “Can anyone trace my fake Instagram account back to me?” according to prosecutors.
Prospective victims were contacted under the premise it was for “athlete research” or “body development,” according to the investigators. Emails included a request for victims to send a photo in their uniform or bathing suit showing “as much skin as possible,” federal prosecutors said.
Investigators said they identified more than 10 victims and that over 300 nude and semi-nude images were found on Waithe’s email accounts.
The coach had also worked at Penn State University, Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Tennessee and Concordia University Chicago, the statement said.
Waithe was a track and field athlete himself at Penn State finishing his collegiate athletic career in the spring of 2015. According to his LinkedIn, Waithe had been serving in college coaching roles since 2015.
Waithe is expected to make his first court appearance in federal court in Chicago Wednesday afternoon, federal prosecutors said. He will appear in Boston federal court at a later date.