Sextortion and the Lucas Chansler Case
July 9, 2015
Sextortion is a criminal act that happens—usually online—when an offender uses coercion to obtain photographs and/or videos that are sexual in nature. In Lucas Michael Chansler’s case, he used the Internet to victimize nearly 350 teenage girls.
Mollie Halpern: The FBI and its partners at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, or NCMEC, are receiving a growing number of reports of sextortion. It’s also believed that the crime often times goes unreported.
Sextortion is a criminal act that happens when an offender uses coercion to obtain photographs and/or videos that are sexual in nature, as well as sexual favors and money. Sextortion is generally perpetrated online. Victims can include children and teens.
I’m Mollie Halpern of the Bureau, and in this edition of Inside the FBI, find out how you can assist the FBI identify victims in one of the largest sextortion cases prosecuted in the United States. Plus, hear what one of the victims in that investigation is saying. And learn what you can do to protect yourself from the crime.
The FBI has open sextortion investigations across the country involving both subjects and victims around the world. FBI Deputy Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigation Division Chris Warrener says investigations show…
Chris Warrener: Often times what we’re going to find that it’s not just one victim, it’s multiple victims—sometimes it’s hundreds of victims—and so our investigation is going to be pretty wide-ranging.
Halpern: One such wide-ranging and rigorous investigation is that of Lucas Michael Chansler, formerly of St. Johns, Florida. Between the years of 2007 and 2010, Chansler victimized about 350 girls from 26 states, three Canadian provinces, and the United Kingdom.
Posing as a 15-year-old boy, he used social networking websites such as Myspace, AIM, and Stickam to befriend girls between the ages of 13 and 18. Once they agreed to video chat with him on Stickam, he coerced them to send sexually explicit photos of themselves. Unbeknownst to the victims, he recorded the sessions. Case Agent Larry Meyer…
Larry Meyer: He had 26 different poses for 41 different pictures that he wanted from each of his victims. And they became more sexually graphic as time went on.
Halpern: Chansler used 135 different online IDs to conceal his identify and location. Forensic analysis of his computer revealed that he had about 80,000 images and videos of child pornography. Chansler released 49 of those images, and pedophiles continue to trade them on the Internet.
In November of 2014, Chansler was sentenced to 105 years in federal prison. Chansler is locked away, but investigators continue to work the case. Special Agent Meyer says 241 child victims still need identified.
Meyer: Our goal is to identify these remaining victims so they can be advised that this chapter in their life is over and he’ll never be back to antagonize them again. Just the psychological effect on so many of these victims, it’s just indescribable and very, very sad.
Halpern: As federal crime victims, the girls are due rights and services.
Meyer: It’s imperative that they understand that they are victims, and it’s imperative that they talk to a parent, a teacher, a counselor.
Halpern: Talking is exactly what Ashley Reynolds is doing. A victim of the Chansler case when she was just 14, the now 20-year-old is sharing her story of strength.
Ashley Reynolds: I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what I went through at that period in my life.
Halpern: Ashley’s parents first reported the crime to NCMEC, which worked with the FBI to identify Chansler. Ashley even gave her witness statement at Chansler’s sentencing hearing. She says speaking out about her experience makes her feel empowered.
Reynolds: I’m stronger than I ever could have been had this not, one, happened, and two, me not come forward. I feel like I’m the dominant one; the ball is in my court, basically.
Halpern: Ashley hopes other victims in the Chansler case and all sextortion victims also come forward.
Reynolds: I’m not even ashamed. I don’t feel ashamed of what happened because I know I’m a victim, and other people need to know that they’re a victim as well.
Halpern: Reporting sextortion takes courage, but by doing so, investigators say victims not only help themselves, they can prevent others from being victimized. Deputy Assistant Director Warrener…
Warrener: The key, really, to uncovering it is good communication between parents and children. Parents should have conversations with children about social networking and about the dangers that there are predators out there who will victimize them and that it can have a huge impact on their life.
Halpern: To learn more about sextortion and the Chansler case, visit www.fbi.gov. There you will find Chansler’s IDs and chat logs—and you might recognize something.
If you have any information that may help identify the victims of Chansler’s sextortion scheme, or if you’re a victim, please fill out the FBI’s confidential questionnaire at www.fbi.gov. Or submit a confidential e-mail to FBI.VICTIMASSISTANCE@ic.fbi.gov. You can also dial 1-800-CALL-FBI or reach out to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.
I’m Mollie Halpern of the Bureau. Thanks for listening to this edition of Inside the FBI.
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