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Former UT track and field coach indicted on cyberstalking, wire fraud, conspiracy charges

Steve Waithe, 28, was indicted on charges for trying to trick female student-athletes into sending him nude photos and allegedly cyberstalking at least one of them.

BOSTON — A federal grand jury in Boston indicted a former University of Tennessee track and field coach in connection with a scheme to trick women across the country into sending him nude or semi-nude photos using more than a dozen fake social media and email accounts. 

The defendant allegedly cyberstalked one female student-athlete and orchestrated a scheme to gain unauthorized access to a victim’s Snapchat account, according to a release from the Department of Justice.

The DOJ said Steve Waithe, 28, of Chicago, Ill., was charged in a 15-count indictment with 12 counts of wire fraud, one count of cyberstalking, one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and one count of computer fraud, aiding and abetting.

RELATED: Former UT track and field coach charged in cyberstalking investigation

The department said starting around February 2020, Waithe used fake social media accounts and reached out to the student-athletes saying he had found compromising photos of them online and offered to “help” get the photos removed from the internet. He allegedly requested additional nude or semi-nude photos that he could use for “reverse image searches.”

The DOJ said he also used personas of “Katie Janovich” and/or “Kathryn Svoboda" to email prospective victims for “athlete research” or “body development” studies. In these emails, he would request for the victims to send photos of themselves in a “uniform or bathing suit to show as much skin as possible."  The emails often included attachments of sample nude and semi-nude images to illustrate the types of photos that victims should send. 

Investigators identified over a dozen sham social media accounts allegedly used by Waithe and over 350 photos sent by more than 49 victims who thought they were emailing someone conducting a legitimate research study, according to the DOJ.

Waithe also allegedly cyberstalked at least one female Northeastern University student-athlete through social media messages, an anonymized phone number and intrusion into her Snapchat account from at least June 21 to Oct. 3, 2020, according to the release.

The DOJ said in October 2020, Waithe allegedly conspired with another individual to hack into Snapchat accounts, ultimately gaining access to at least one account and its private “My Eyes Only” folder that contained nude and/or semi-nude photos. 

He also allegedly provided his co-conspirator with the usernames and phone numbers for the Snapchat accounts of at least 15 women, according to the department. They then used this information to send text messages claiming to be from the “Snapchat Support Team” and requesting security information, which they used to gain access to at least one account.

The investigation revealed that Waithe’s internet browsing history allegedly included visits to webpages with titles like, “Can anyone trace my fake Instagram account back to me?” and “How to Hack Someones Snapchat the Easy Way," according to the DOJ. It is alleged that Waithe’s search history also included searches for, among other things, “how to hack snapchat with a username and phone number.”

The Department of Justice is asking any other potential victims in this case to visit: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/victim-and-witness-assistance-program/us-v-steven-waithe

On April 7, 2021, Waithe was charged by criminal complaint with wire fraud and cyberstalking and was arrested in Chicago, according to the release. He was released by the Court on conditions on May 19, 2021.

In April, the University of Tennessee told WBIR Waithe was a coach for the 2017-2018 track season before leaving for another career opportunity. 

There were no reports of possible misconduct from his time at UT in a preliminary review of their files following the allegations, according to a statement from the university at the time.

He also worked as a track and field coach at Penn State University, Illinois Institute of Technology and Concordia University Chicago.

Waithe was indicted on Dec. 2 and will appear in federal court in Boston on Dec. 9 at 9:45 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald L. Cabell, according to the DOJ.

RELATED: Report: 19-year-old arrested for harassment after making Snapchat group targeting Cumberland County High School student