By Ryan Palencer
— United States Attorney Joseph Hogsett announced Tuesday that charges will be formally brought against Richard L. Finkbiner, 39, of Brazil, for a “sextortion” ring that allegedly involved 10 boys and two girls in several states, including a boy from Avon.
Finkbiner was charged with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of children/production of sexually explicit images of a minor, two counts of extortion by interstate communications, and one count of possession of child pornography.
”This may very well be a historic prosecution of sizable proportion in the number of victims that Mr. Finkbiner, as we say, ‘sextorted,’” Hogsett said at a Tuesday press conference in Terre Haute.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Finkbiner would make initial contact with the minors on Internet sites, including one called Omegle.com. After making contact, authorities say he would use a “fake webcam” to display pornographic video files, claiming that they were a live news feed. He then induced his victims to engage in sexually explicit or suggestive activity, according to the report, and used screen capture software to record the activity.
Finkbiner would then allegedly threaten his victims with the dissemination of the footage to friends, family, and the general public unless the victims engaged in further sexually explicit or suggestive acts. According to the report, he explained to the victims that they were his “cam slaves.”
The alleged victims, ranging in age from 12 to 17, are from all over the country including West Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Alaska, Minnesota, and Indiana.
If found guilty, Finkbiner faces a lengthy prison sentence. Each of the 10 sexual exploitation charges carries a maximum sentence of 30 years, while each of the possession of child pornography charges carries a sentence of 10 years behind bars.
Prosecutors think that the number of victims could be much larger and are urging other victims to come forward to help build their case against Finkbiner.
Finkbiner allegedly used the e-mail addresses email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who believes they had contact with these e-mail addresses and/or was a victim of sexual exploitation online is encouraged to call the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (877) 542-8979.