Investigators are working to track down the woman who convinced a teen boy from Cheshire to record himself performing a sex act while they were video chatting, then threatened to send the recording to his whole contact list unless he paid her $350, according to police.
Det. Sgt. Tom Bobok of the Cheshire Police Department said the 15-year-old boy and his parents filed a complaint Jan. 27. The incident falls into the category of “sextortion,” when a predator entices a young person to send lewd images over social media, then uses them as leverage or blackmail.
“He had been communicating with a woman via Skype, and she convinced him to perform a sex act while they were video chatting,” Bobok explained. “Unbeknownst to him, she recorded it and came back to him at a later point in time and said she would release it to his contacts via social media if he didn’t pay her a sum of money.”
The teen never paid a dime, and so far, the recording has not been released. Police are trying to identify the woman behind it but said she has disappeared from the Internet and Bobok said investigators “have no reason to believe” she’s in the United States.
“The female deleted all of her accounts, which makes it a little harder to track,” Bobok said. “It is a technologically complex investigation in order to get these social media companies to release information about where the communication originated from, but it can be done.”
Meanwhile, Cheshire Human Services Director Michelle Piccerillo is working to prevent a similar situation from happening again.
“Internet use is becoming a risky behavior, and I think the way we deal with risky behavior in youth is educating parents,” she said. “We educate kids to the level that we can.”
Piccerillo suggested implementing parental controls, limiting time online, going through teens’ Internet history and gauging a child’s emotional intelligence and level of responsibility.
“It is very easy to be tricked or connived into doing something you don’t want to do,” she said.
Bobok said the 15-year-old boy may not be the only local victim of sextortion and urged others to come forward. He said many of these crimes go unreported because victims are embarrassed.
“Know the police involved are going to deal with it with the utmost sensitivity and confidentiality,” he said. “The only way to prevent this from further happening to other victims is to get the story out. Let us investigate, find out who these people are and bring them to justice.”