BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Hundreds of teenage girls were victimized by an online predator. The FBI says they were asked to send naked photos—and some of those girls are right here in Maryland.
Tracey Leong explains why the FBI needs help identifying those victims.
The convicted online predator extorted at least 350 young girls for sexual photos, but the FBI has only been able to locate about a hundred of them.
Lucas Michael Chansler targeted girls between the ages of 13 and 18 online, then threatened them for sexual photos.
“Extorting these girls and forcing them to do things they probably didn’t want to do and at some point felt compelled to do because they were scared to death,” said FBI media rep Amy Thoreson.
Using more than 130 different screen names like Cuddley and Good Looking Guy, Chansler pretended to be a 15-year-old boy. He targeted girls across 26 states, including Maryland, between 2007 and 2010. Investigators say Chansler would sometimes screen capture the girls in compromising situations during video chats or convince them he had naked photos of them. Chansler would then blackmail the girls, saying he’d send the photos out to their friends if they didn’t send him sexual images.
The FBI says these convincing online predators are overwhelming to their naive victims and parents need to know what their kids are doing online.
“Parents need to have their kids’ passwords to their Facebook pages, to their phones. They need to inspect the phones. Kids are doing things ’cause kids will be kids and they don’t think it will involve a stranger,” Thoreson said.
“That’s the world we live in. Parents have to stay up to date on everything kids are doing. You have to,” said parent Lynett Lawson.
“It’s very concerning. It’s happening all the time so you just got to keep an eye on them, on what they’re doing,” said parent Tracey Hobson.
So far, investigators have only identified 109 of the victims and they’re hoping others come forward.
“We want to find out what he did to those people and we want to make sure they have the ability to find justice in this case,” Thoreson said.
Last year, Chansler was sentenced to 105 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to multiple counts of child pornography production.
If you think you could have been a victim, we have a list of the online screen names he used. For more information, click here.