Where is Ryan Vallee today? His life after prison

Ryan Vallee

The sleepy town of Belmont, New Hampshire, rarely appeared on news headlines until authorities unmasked a sexual predator named Ryan Vallee. Ryan was no tech guru, but he used the basics of hacking to manipulate teenage girls into sending him sexually explicit content. Vallee was guilty of sextortion or sexploitation. 

His crimes feature in episode 4 of Netflix’s Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies and the Internet. It chronicles how, even with mountains of evidence, authorities struggled to prove that Ryan was the man behind the aliases ‘Seth Williams’ and ‘James McRow.’ 

Vallee eventually admitted to his crimes, earning a rather lenient prison sentence considering the damage he did to at least 23 victims. 

Ryan is keeping a low profile after being released from prison in early 2022

After receiving several complaints from distressed teenage girls, detective Raechel Moulton received information from a messaging service that helped her identify Ryan Vallee as the perp. 

She needed more evidence before potentially filing charges; nevertheless, she informed the girls of the harasser’s identity. “They really had a sense of this big, huge, brute of a person,” Moulton told Wired. “When they found out who it was, some of them were like, ‘Really?’”

Detective Moulton realized that she could only charge Ryan with harassment, a crime carrying a sentence of less than a year. “For a couple of those girls, it became their lives for a year and a half,” she said. “I didn’t think the laws of this state were enough for that kind of fear.”

Moulton enlisted federal help. After learning that one of the victims was considering suicide, the feds charged Vallee with extortion, but the charge didn’t stick. They dismissed the case and started collecting more evidence against Ryan, hoping to arrest and indict him on stronger charges. 

In 2016, federal prosecutors charged Ryan with aggravated identity theft, interstate threats, and computer fraud and abuse. Vallee’s release on bail restricted him from using the internet, but the criminal couldn’t help himself. 

Authorities saw an opportunity to catch him in the act and collect information from his device that would make their case stronger. Secret Service officers created a trap for Ryan, arresting him and finding a phone that bolstered their case. 

Ryan Vallee pleaded guilty to 31 counts. The court granted the prosecution’s request for a maximum sentence of eight years. Judge Paul Barbadoro said:

“This is a difficult case to sentence because of the extraordinary harm to the young women who have been injured here and also to try to understand the defendant’s conduct, which is difficult to comprehend, even for a judge like me who’s been doing this for 25 years.”

Records show that prison authorities released Ryan in January 2022. He has kept a low profile since his release.

Vallee’s actions caused lasting impacts on his victims

Ryan Vallee was quiet and awkward in person but a master manipulator behind a keyboard. Some of the victims he chose had interacted with him at Belmont High; one had talked to him about her online stalker. “What did I do for him to feel that I deserved this,” May, one of his victims, asked. 

Most of Vallee’s targets were his schoolmates at Belmont High. He used pseudonyms to create fake Facebook accounts that portrayed him as a fun and outgoing person – a far cry from his real personality. 

After the target accepted a friend request, Ryan would gain their trust, collecting information he would use to hack their accounts. Vallee would then ask for nudes, and if the girl pushed back, he would threaten them using data he’d acquired from the online accounts. 

Ryan threatened to send the girls’ nude photos to workmates and family or post them on pornography sites. To prove to one victim that he knew her address, he ordered ‘items of a sexual nature’ for her from her Amazon account. 

Vallee’s actions caused untold psychological distress on his victims. Wired’s piece about Ryan’s crime reads:

“One began sleeping in the same bed as her mother. Several feared Seth would attack them. One girl cried herself to sleep. Another routinely called her mom at work, sobbing, terrified about being alone. They battled depression, anxiety, nausea.”

“This is a real crime,” Assistant US Attorney Arnie Huftalen said. “It really hurts people, and it creates injuries that will last for a lifetime.”

Most of Ryan’s victims declined to speak at the hearing. “I can only guess they were just as afraid as I was,” May said. Only three out of the twenty-three identified victims attended Ryan’s hearing. 

Two victims speaking to WMUR said that Ryan’s actions would haunt them forever. One said: “These emotional scars will never go away. I’m very happy that he’s going away, but the damage he has done to us will never go away.”

The second one added: “This has been a very harrowing experience for me personally. It changed the way that I see people and how I’m able to interact with people.”