A Virginia man who was arrested and charged for cyberstalking a young woman in connection with a sextortion scheme followed a familiar pattern, authorities said.
The FBI notes the man used social media to contact the victim, a 20-year-old woman from Delaware County, Pa. He used a false name and offered her “a large sum of money” to communicate on another messaging app.
The victim then engaged in a nude video chat. The man surreptitiously recorded portions of the video chat and then demanded $40 to delete a nude photo he had captured, according to the FBI.
After sending the $40 via an online payment platform, he told the woman, “You’re good lol.” However, that was just the start of his scheme.
Following a familiar pattern of extortionists, he then demanded all of the money in her bank account.
“In these messages, [the man] threatened to disseminate the nude photos of the victim to her college and other social media friends and followers if she did not pay him more money,” the FBI explained.
He then got more aggressive, claiming that an “expose page is being created right now and I’m also going to tag your college…I’ll end you…I’m not someone you want to [expletive] with.”
“Your life is over,” he added.
The victim became distraught and took “a number of” prescription pills, the FBI said. As a consequence, she was rushed to an emergency room. She ultimately recovered.
The man continued the alleged abuse while she was in the hospital, “advertising” nude photos of the victim using various online accounts.
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of five years’ imprisonment, three years’ supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
“If you have been victimized, know that you are not alone and should not be shamed into silence,” First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said in a statement. “These criminals are counting on your silence to get away with it; don’t let them.”
In a separate advisory, the FBI described how sextortionists have a template where they quickly up the ante, demanding more money or more content.
“When the young person starts to resist requests to make more images, the criminal will use threats of harm or exposure of the early images to pressure the child to continue producing content,” the FBI said.
By Brooke Crothers