Learn More:  FBI:  Sextortion — Help Us Locate Additional Victims of an Online Predator  |  ‘Sextortion’ is an Online ‘Epidemic’ (USAToday) | Sextortion is Newest Cyber Sex Crime (WCPO) | Mastermind Behind Miss Teen USA Sextortion Plot Gets Just 18 Months in Prison (NYDaily News)

As advocates, victims, and the Internet are fighting revenge porn and hackers stealing people’s intimate photographs and exposing them to the public, another form of sexual predation is taking hold.

The FBI is warning parents of young girls and young women, “sextortion is a growing threat both domestically and internationally.  The devastating impact of these crimes on the victims, their family, and friends cannot be ignored (FBI Assistant Director Joseph Campbell).”

Ashley Reynolds was a thriving 14-year-old girl in Phoenix, Arizona, active in student government and her Christian faith, but in her freshman year of high school she began to receive threatening text messages.

“I have naked pictures of you. They’re going to be sent to all ur friends,” it read.

“I need you to take pictures in your bra if u don’t want them to see you,” another text message read.

Reynolds was shocked.  She says that she knew there were no naked pictures of her anywhere, but as the harassment began to mount, it played with her mind.

“He was… manipulating my mind to believe that he did have some pictures of me,” she said.

She said that she began to believe that he had hacked into her laptop webcam and without her knowledge took photos while she was changing.  What Ashley didn’t know is that she was the victim of sextortion, a rapidly growing crime in which predators coerce young girls into sending them naked pictures, so that they can trade them with others using the Internet.  Ashley felt like she had no choice and sent the stranger a few naked pictures of herself hoping that he would go away, but they never do.  The harassment and demands continued and Ashley ended up afraid sending her predator at least 60 pictures a night.

“I was so scared. I didn’t know where it was going to go, how far it was going…” she said.

The person behind the threats was 31-year-old Lucas Chansler of Florida who is serving 105 years in prison for a child pornography extortion scheme.

One predator can victimized hundreds of girls.  The FBI says that Chansler victimized at least 350 girls in 26 states, Canada, and the U.K.  The FBI is still trying to identify 250 of his victims.  The FBI raided Chansler’s home in 2010 and found 80,000 images and videos of victims.  They also found evidence that many of the victims pleaded with Chansler to stop.  Some of the images even depict the girls crying.

Ashley kept her tormentor a secret until her mother discovered the nude photos on her laptop.  She called the authorities and broke the case wide open.  Now 20 years old, Ashley is on a crusade to help the FBI save other young girls from sexual predators.

“I feel like I have a meaning [in life] to help other girls that they don’t have to go through this like I did,” she said.

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