ST PAUL, Minn. — Editor's note: The video above first aired on KARE 11 on June 15, 2022.
Three months after pleading guilty to a massive sextortion scheme, 31-year-old Yue Vang was sentenced to more than four decades in prison.
At the federal courthouse in St. Paul Wednesday, Judge Eric Tostrud handed down Vang's 43-year sentence. Vang, who's from St. Paul, was initially charged with two counts of production of child pornography, one count of possession of child pornography, and one count of interstate communications with intent to extort.
"Mr. Vang's conduct was calculated and cruel. It caused unbounded and everlasting harm," Judge Tostrud said.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, from 2015 through 2020 Vang "adopted the personae of real minor girls" and posed as real people to get other young victims to produce and send him child pornography. When they refused, Vang threatened to and did release their sexually explicit images and videos.
"This is the largest sextortion case in the country," said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Brenda Born.
The FBI identified 1,100 minors targeted by Vang. There are victims in every state – including 50 in Minnesota – and in 13 other countries. The victims range from 12-17 years old.
Born worked for two years to bring charges against 31-year-old Yue Vang.
"We were able to uncover approximately 75 identifications and monikers he was using to communicate with the victims," Born told KARE 11 in June.
Born said Vang used dozens of usernames and IDs 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.
"This case demonstrates the extensive reach of social media and the irreparable trauma one predatory individual inflicted on over a thousand young girls," Michael Paul, FBI Special Agent in Charge, Minneapolis Division, said in a statement following the sentencing. "However, the ensuing investigation highlights the immense collaboration and dedication of law enforcement partners throughout the country who worked tirelessly to identify the victims and hold Vang accountable for his atrocious crimes.”
Dozens of victims and their families attended Vang's sentencing hearing. Several of the young women shared heartbreaking stories of the impact Vang's scam had on them.
"Our intentions are to identify the victims so we can get them whatever help and resources they need. Because as we heard today, a majority of our victims had contemplated suicide," Born said.
People who may be a victim of Vang's scheme can visit the FBI's website or find more resources through the Department of Justice.
Additional resources for victims:
- U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General – Project Safe Childhood: Protecting Children from Online Exploitation and Abuse
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children – Resources for Survivors of Sexual Abuse
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