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FBI believes there are more victims of St. Paul man's sextortion scheme

More than 500 minors have already been identified as victims, but agents say they believe there may be more.

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — A St. Paul man has pleaded guilty to a massive sextortion scheme that the FBI says targeted at least 500 minors through a number of social media sites.

But they believe there could be many more victims.

However, before getting to that, what exactly is sextortion?

At the level the FBI gets involved, it's when an individual poses as a minor, befriends other minors and talks them into sending them sexually explicit images.

The perpetrator then uses the images they've received to threaten and extort the victims into sending them more.

The work at FBI Supervisory Special Agent Brenda Born did for two years to bring charges against 31-year-old Yue Vang was tremendous.

"We were able to uncover approximately 75 identifications and monikers he was using to communicate with the victims," Born said. 

Born says Vang used dozens of usernames and IDs (list of names here) across different communications or social media platforms such as Skype, Snapchat, Facebook and Kik to lure minors into thinking that they were talking to another minor.

"We were able to look at approximately 1,000 other individuals that he's been communicating with," Born said. "Of those thousand, we were able to identify just over 500."

"Those are individuals that we show that he was communicating with," Born said, referring to the 1,000. "Our goal is to try and identify them. They might be victims, they might not be victims, but we're attempting to try and locate them to see if they're are related to this in anyway and if they are that way we can get them services."

The FBI said it is looking to connect those victims to mental health support.

Born said the investigation shows the psychological damage the victims go through is evident.

"I see how even during that extortion time, and you have the victim and they're saying, 'Why are you doing this to me? I'm crying, I've started cutting myself.' They feed on that even more, 'Well, just send me more pictures. Do this and it will stop.'"

Born added that broaching the topic with a teen may be difficult, but it's crucial, not just for this investigation but for internet safety for minors in general.

"Having that relationship with your kids, of being able to come to you or having a kid go to an adult, we also have the FBI tip line out there — contact us," Born said.

She added that minors should be given a heads up that when an internet stranger asks to switch communications platforms to specific ones, they should be wary. 

Also posting photos online could lead to them being stolen to be used as a user photo of a potential perpetrator.

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