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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 19, 2021

Virginia Man Sentenced for Cyber “Sextortion” Scheme

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Warrenton man was sentenced today to 31 years in prison for a years-long “sextortion” scheme running from 2016 to 2020 in which he coerced numerous preteen and teenage victims to create and send him electronic images of themselves engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

“The defendant manipulated, coerced, and tormented children across the country by using an arsenal of repulsive tactics, which subjected these vulnerable minors to trauma that will painfully stay with them and their families forever,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “While no amount of jail time can ever undo the devastating physical and emotional damage the defendant has caused, we hope that today’s sentence will provide some measure of justice for the victims.”

Filippo Parlagreco, 36, pleaded guilty to the production, distribution, and possession of child pornography on November 5, 2020. According to court documents, in summer 2017, Parlagreco—posing as a teenage girl on social media—began communicating with a 14-year-old girl and persuaded her to send him sexually explicit photographs of herself. After she did so, Parlagreco posted the explicit photographs to another social media application and demanded that she produce and send him additional explicit images if she wanted them removed. Despite the victim blocking him on social media and reporting the crimes to law enforcement, Parlagreco continued to contact her with demands for sexually explicit images over the course of three years.

“This case demonstrates the grave dangers that children face online, where predators can pretend to be anyone and use sophisticated tactics to exploit the most vulnerable among us,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The defendant used an array of technology to target and torment innocent children for his own perverse pleasure, but as this prosecution shows, the Department of Justice will continue to marshal its resources to pursue these predators and combat this epidemic.”

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation and its local, state, and federal partners work tirelessly on a daily basis to investigate and bring to justice individuals engaged in the exploitation and sexual abuse of children,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “With this sentencing, we have removed a dangerous child predator from the community, and sent a clear message that acts of sextortion against minors over the internet are taken seriously and will be investigated and brought to justice.”

Once law enforcement was able to identify Parlagreco, further investigation revealed that he had sexually exploited at least 13 other minor victims nationwide between 2016 and 2020 in a similar manner, including some as young as 11 years old. Parlagreco’s tactics ranged from false promises of confidentiality and misrepresentation of his identity to extortion and threats of prosecution. The evidence further showed that he traded child sexual abuse material with other offenders online, and that he possessed hundreds of images and dozens of videos of child sexual abuse in an encrypted portion of his phone.

Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh of the Eastern District of Virginia, Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Assistant Director in Charge Steven D’Antuono of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Keim and Trial Attorneys Jessica Urban and Gwendelynn Bills of the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) prosecuted the case.

The FBI’s Washington Field Office investigated the case with assistance from local law enforcement throughout the country.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:20-cr-243.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Cyber Crime
Contact: 
Press Office USAVAE.Press@usdoj.gov
Updated March 19, 2021